Connect with us

Interviews

8

Y&R’s Jess Walton Remembers Jeanne Cooper, Classic Katherine & Jill, and Talks Life in Present Day GC

Photo: CBS

For over three decades, The Young and the Restless’ Jess Walton has been a force of nature to be reckoned as Jill Foster Abbott on the CBS Daytime Drama.  But couple that with the Grand Dame of Genoa City, Katherine Chancellor, played by the late great Jeanne Cooper and together these two Daytime-Emmy winning actresses on-screen chemistry was off the charts; delivering some of the most iconic and memorable scenes in soap history.

This week on Y&R, the show kicks-off its theme week of classic episodes starting with five memorable ones ranging from 1990 to 2009 with Katherine Chancellor front and center.  From Katherine meeting her doppelganger Marge, to turning the tables on an alcoholic intervention meant for her, to seeing ghosts from her past, to making a mess at Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) and Billy’s (then, Billy Miller) nuptials (literally!), to marrying her beloved Murphy (Michael Fairman), once you watch all these rebroadcasts, viewers will be reminded just why Jeanne is a daytime legend.  And oh, yes! Look for Jill to figure prominently into the equation in several of them.  So, who better to kick-off Y&R’s celebration of Jeanne Cooper this week than her longtime scene partner and dear friend, Jess Walton!

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Jess where she shared: some remembrances of her time working with Jeanne, creating the Katherine/Jill dynamic, and what she recalls about taping some of the classic moments fans will see, plus the latest developments in Jill’s life.  Could Jill and Jack (Peter Bergman) rekindle the feelings they once had for each other, complex as they may be? Stay tuned.

It is always a treat to speak with Jess, and we always treasure getting a moment to shine a light on the unforgettable Mrs. C.  Here’s what she had to say.

Photo: JWaltonTwitter

Do you remember your very first day at Y&R back in 1987?

JESS:  I do remember when I got the job.  I had to start the very next day.  My very good friend was Nicholas Walker from Capitol, and he had worked temporarily on Y&R, and he was dating Eileen Davidson (Ashley, Y&R) at the time.  So, he kind of had been on the set, and he had watched the Jill and Katherine scenes.  He came over and ran my lines with me.  The next day, everybody was coming up to me.  I had worked with many of these people on Capitol because we shot right across the hall, and they were all so welcoming – the cameramen, the wardrobe people, the makeup people, etc.   There was so much going on.   We had a casting director who had white hair, and he was about Bill Bell’s age at that time.  I thought he was Bill Bell.  (Laughs)  Every week, I’d go up to him and ask him how I was doing, and he’d go, “Well, are they saying anything?”  I said, “They’re saying it’s okay,” and he’d go, “Then, it’s okay.”  Finally, I said to him, “Your daughter (meaning Lauralee Bell) has been so wonderful to me.”  He said, “I don’t have a daughter!” (Laughs)  Oh, it was so funny.

Photo: CBS

What are your first recollections of meeting Jeanne Cooper, and working with her?

JESS:  We were in the thick of this storyline revolving around Rex Sterling (Quinn Redeker), and what I remember is that Jeanne was really helpful to me.  I had a tremendous amount of dialogue.  We were just working together so much.  I just grew to love her, and then I noticed how wonderful she was to everybody.  Every new person who came on the show, Jeanne would take them aside. She would show them the ropes, and would give them advice.  She was just fantastic.  Anyone who would ever have a baby, she would always have a baby gift for that person.  In her dressing room, there would be executives who would come in.  You’d walk into her dressing room, and there would be the head of Sony sitting there chatting with her.  I spoke to somebody last week about how she was always the first one to offer up her dressing room for AFTRA meetings.  Jeanne always knew everything that was going on.  She knew every rumor going around; she knew every truth going around.  She was the most amazing woman I ever met.

Photo: CBS

Was there a moment when you knew that the Katherine/Jill dynamic and rivalry was solid gold, and would have legs for you and Jeanne for years to come?

JESS:  Here’s the funny thing: Jeanne was coming off working for years with Brenda Dickson (Ex-Jill), and she and Brenda had tremendous success with this on-screen relationship.  They had crowds in the parking lot who would meet them after work.  There would be the Jill side and the Katherine side.  Jeanne would tell me the history of it.  It began to dawn on me how big it had been back then.  Then, we got such incredible fan mail from people on different sides of the fence.  Most of them were quite on Jeanne’s side, on Katherine’s side.  I did not care for that! (Laughs) There was nothing much I could do, but I think I knew from the very start how special this was.  But, I’ve got to tell you, we worked our asses off in the dressing room on our scenes.  We would set each other up for the punchlines of the jokes, we would accentuate their character flaws, we would accentuate how ridiculous Jill was, and we would laugh about it.  It was the most wonderful part of our time together.  Jeanne was the heart and the soul of the show.

Now, coming up on Thursday, Y&R will rebroadcast the classic Katherine/Jill cake fight from April of 2009, when Katherine and Jill steal the spotlight at Billy (then played by Billy Miler) and Chloe’s (Elizabeth Hendrickson) wedding.  What do you recall about taping the notorious cake fight?

JESS:  I remember I asked Sally McDonald, (who was directing the episode), if I could be drinking mimosas during the scenes to excuse the fact of Jill’s ridiculous behavior.  So, she let me always have a mimosa in my hand, and then, finally we went into the dining room, and Katherine told Jill, she wasn’t her daughter.  Jill was so hurt because she really did love Katherine and hated her at the same time.  I remember I had to hurl horrible insults at Murphy (Michael Fairman) and at Esther (Kate Linder), and then it culminated in the cake fight, which was a fan favorite, I’m sure.

Photo: JPI

Did you do that fight in one take, or did you have to redo it to get it just right?

JESS:  Oh, we couldn’t have done it again.  We were covered!  Instead of trying to smear cake on me, Jeanne kept trying to lift the entire cake to put on me, (laughs) and we had people behind us. I asked Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) because she was kind of in the middle of it, “Do you mind if I get cake on your face,” and she was like, “No, go for it.”  So, I had Beau Kazer (Brock) behind me holding me up because my high heels were slipping, there was frosting all over the floor, and I kept falling down, and he kept holding me up. (Laughs) It was just hilarious.

Photo: JPI

Now this Tuesday, Y&R will air an episode from back in July of 2005.  In it, Katherine (Jeanne Cooper) surprises her loved ones when they attempt to stage an intervention about her drinking problem.  Obviously, Jeanne herself documented her battle with alcohol over the years in her memoir.  Were you ever concerned for her playing this kind of story that was close to things that she experienced in her own life?

JESS:  Never.  Not for an instant.  I knew her too well by that time.  She was so far from taking another drink and breaking her sobriety. I didn’t give it a second thought.   We just thought what a great story it was, and besides this, in the middle of that great story, she would never have been in the mood to take a drink because she was loving the story so much.  That’s the way she was and I will say; this was a fabulous episode the way they wrote it.

Photo: JPI

Another memorable episode is airing on Friday when Y&R rebroadcasts Katherine and Murphy’s wedding from May of 2009.  Jill caused some problems in it!

JESS:  I do remember being locked in a closet.  Somebody locked Jill in a coat closet because they thought I would ruin the wedding, and I got out of the closet, and Jill walked through the wedding being really snarky to Katherine. We did a lot of crazy things.  I always had to make a fool of myself.  I’d open up my scripts, and I’d go, “Oh no, Jill.  Please don’t do this.”

Photo: JPI

Would you and Jeanne ever go to the producers or writers; if there was something that you just would not do as they had written for the two of you in the scripts?

JESS:  I don’t think there was anything major.  There were things we disagreed with.  I remember one time she called me up.  We were working on our lines at night for the next day. Jeanne said, “Every single one of my lines, Jess, should be a Jill line, and every single one of your lines should be a Katherine line.”  So, we switched them all around, but we let the writers or producers know.  Jeanne was absolutely right.  The lines were all reversed.  I also know she never liked the story of Katherine being Jill’s mother, and I always loved it, because I thought it explained the love/hate relationship so well.  I think she thought it would damage their relationship, and it kind of did for a while.

Photo: JPI

Why do you think you and Jeanne, as Jill and Katherine, became so beloved by the fans of Y&R and the entire soap genre?

JESS:  First of all, there was such fabulous writing and situations.  Then, you have these two characters.  You have this older woman, who is this fancy, shmancy dowager, and then, you have this haughty, arrogant upstart, and they were really well written in their backgrounds.  Then, all of the sudden they get down and dirty.  They were also so human with each other.  So, the audience could see Jill being knocked down a peg or two.  They’d see Katherine, who is this fancy lady also being super human.  You never knew what Katherine and Jill were going to do, and it was pretty hilarious when you think of it.  It was kind of the comedy part of the show, at times.  I think, that was appealing to the audience, and I think we handled it really well.  I mean, we rehearsed so long.  Back then, we were last up in the afternoon.  So, if the taping of the show would stretch out, we had hours and hours to prepare and get our lines down and figure out the beats that we could do with each other.  Maybe, that was why it worked.

Photo: CBS

I’ll never forget the last scene that Jeanne did with you. Katherine goes up the staircase and says, “Goodnight ” to Jill.  How did you get through that scene? (Watch the scene following this interview below)

JESS:  She was so frail at that time.  We had just done The Marie Osmond Show, and I remember she was just standing at the back of a chair just holding on, and I knew something was really wrong.  Then, every scene after that (which wasn’t that many), I kept thinking, “Is this going to be the last one she will be able to do?”  I didn’t really think that she would die.  I didn’t go that far.  I just thought that she would not be able to act anymore.  Even during that scene, it was just one of the many that I thought, “Is this the last time that I am going to be able to act with her?”  So, she went up the stairs, and she had that great dignity. Jeanne was very slow going up, and when she turned around, Jill asked if she could do anything for her.  I do remember there was a great deal of communication going on between her and me.  I definitely had it in my mind that this might be the last time.  It was something.

Now, in the present day on Y&R, it looks like the show could be rekindling the Jack (Peter Bergman) and Jill relationship.  They certainly have had a complicated past.

JESS:  There is also a lot passion between the two of them.  They have a love/hate thing going too.  Anytime you have that kind of passion – one side or the other (and with them you have got it on both sides), that’s always a possibility.  There are some great old classic shows with us. Jack and Jill always have this tension.

Photo: JPI

Do you enjoy working with Peter Bergman?

JESS:  Oh, working with Peter is like falling off a log.  It really is.  It’s the easiest thing in the world because we both trust each other so much.  We know our characters; we know each other’s characters.  We have so much fun with it.  We love the idea of battling, especially when there’s a lot of history behind it.  It’s really fun.

Wouldn’t you love to see Jill have a romance that continues and is more long term?  Do you think that would be good for her?

JESS:  I’m not sure if it would be good or not for her.  I really thought that was going to be it with Colin (Tristan Rogers), because she met somebody who was so, so charming.  Then, that didn’t work out.  I remember I went to the producers years ago, and I said, “Please give Jill somebody.  I don’t just want to be an old maid running around town butting into other peoples’ business.  Give me a homelife.”  So, for a while, I felt like I had that with Colin, and it’s always so much more fun being in a partnership.  In soaps, that means you have a partner to go to parties with, to be in scenes with, to have a home with rather than being alone… so, I do prefer that.  I’d like to see that, whoever it might be with.

Photo: JPI

But, you’d be all-in for a Jack/Jill redo? 

JESS:  Well, I certainly wouldn’t be against it.  That’s for sure.

Jill recently got her son Billy (Jason Thompson) and Lily (Christel Khalil) to work together.  She gave them a shot at Chancellor Industries running the social media division.  Was she trying to set them up, romantically? What was Jill’s reasoning here?

JESS:  I think she still wants Billy with Victoria (Amelia Heinle) because of the grandchildren and because of the family dynamic. I think Jill was just doing that for business reasons.  She thought it would be really good for the media division because as she says in the show, “They’re so different, and they will play off of each other so well that it will be a successful division.”  She also was very fond of Lily because of when she and Cane were married.  Jill is very fond of both Victoria and Lily. I’m not quite sure Jill took into consideration that there was a danger if Billy and Lily got together, in that he’d never get back with his family.

Photo: JPI

You and Jason Thompson seem to have a great relationship.  How is working with him as your son on Y&R?

JESS:  I flat-out adore that boy.  I love him so much.  What’s really interesting too is that he reminds me of my own son, Cole, and both of them have sons named Bowie.  So, I’ve got a real grandson named B-E-A-U, but they call him “Bowie”, and Jason’s son is B-O-W-I-E.  Anyway, I’ve never played with a Billy who had dark hair and dark eyes, and I don’t know why, but I love that about him; that he looks like Jill instead of an Abbott!  Jason is so damn good at what he does, and he is such a quick study.  He goes so deep into the character, and he even points out stuff to me in scenes that I haven’t thought of.  It’s really stimulating.  Billy loves Jill even though she makes him crazy.  He loves her, and I can feel it.  She, of course, adores him, even though he exasperates her sometimes.  I just love their relationship.  I love him as an actor.  I love him playing that character.

Photo: JPI

What do you think Jeanne would say if she knew there was this week-long tribute of episodes “Katherine the Great” airing on Y&R?

JESS:  Oh, she’d adore it!  Are you kidding?  Nobody would love that more than her!  She loved accolades.  There is no doubt.  She would be the first one to admit it, too.

Photos: JPI and ABC

Jeanne won the Daytime Emmy for Lead Actress in 2008 and you won in that category back in 1997.  Did the two of you ever talk about your Emmy wins? 

JESS:  Yes.  I won Best Actress before she did, and it always made me feel really weird, because I thought that was so unfair because Jeanne had been so wonderful for so long.  So, when she finally did win, I felt incredibly good about it.  I was so, so happy.  It was well-deserved and long-overdue, I thought.

Photo: JPI

Do you have some hopes for Jill in the future? Is there a story you would still love to get the opportunity to do?

JESS:  No, you know what?  The great thing about our show is that we are like a theatre company.  It always reminds of how I started out in repertory theatre, and that’s what we are, and the show as a whole.  I love the fact that I go around and play scenes with different people.  On Y&R, I have grandsons, I have sons, I have ex-stepdaughters, etc.  So, I love it the way it is.  I mean, if Jill had a romance in the future, I would love that, but whatever they have in store for me, I’ll take it with both hands, believe me.

So, are you excited to see some classic episodes of Y&R featuring Jeanne Cooper along with Jess Walton?  Would you say that Jeanne and Jess’ scenes over the years remain some of your enduring favorites? What are your hopes for Jill in 2020? Share your thoughts via the comment section.  But first, check out a preview for this week’s Y&R, Jess and Jeanne’s Lead Actress Emmy-winning moments, plus their final scene together below.

Leave a comment | 8 Comments
Advertisement

8

avatar
8 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
8 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
leroy davidsonBarbara from AtlantaDamienLew S.Timmm Recent comment authors
newest oldest
Kay
Guest
Kay

Sweet love to them all I am enjoying the oldies god bless them all those were the days ! Good luck to all of them

matt
Guest
matt

Plus we will see the house in its glory, unlike today.

Tez
Guest
Tez

❤Jess Walton she seem like a fun person in real life. . Miss Katherine & Jeanne..many viewers want to see 70s& 80s classic YR. Would love to see Brenda & Terry Jill & Jack. I feel YR should do a Jill throwback and have Brenda, Deborah Adair, Jess Walton show what Jill went through. Jess, has made the role of Jill hers, but classic are not anything from 2006- present. B.Bell YR is classic and current mess they have…Josh G…pls take notes

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

I loved Jeanne BUT they shouldnt have killed her off. She is too important of a character. I know, impossible to replace but they could have tried. She was the heart and soul of Y&R and I’m sure the cast has many many stories to tell!

Lew S.
Guest
Lew S.

Truly classic Y&R episodes! Take note EPs & HWs – THAT is how you write drama, mixed with suspense and a little bit of comedy! Last Friday’s episode had the Phyllis that I knew and loved. She was a hoot!

Damien
Guest
Damien

Great interview Michael, thank you!
What a treat this week will be!
I d love if Mac returned for a brief visit with Katherines son Brock and for Brock and Jill to have a quick soulful love affair until Brock has to leave again for one of his volunteer works overseas and for Jill to all of a sudden try to follow along but realise that they re just too different. I ‘d love for Jill to find a different type of love even for a brief while!!

Barbara from Atlanta
Guest
Barbara from Atlanta

The writers need to “undo” the inane Jill Fenmore business and return the character to where she properly belongs, as the biological daughter of Bill and Liz Foster.

It also wouldn’t hurt if Jill returned to the show on a more permanent basis. The random scenes that Walton performs where we will go months on end without seeing Jill is doing the character no favors. How exactly would the writers craft a decent romance between Jill and Jack, when the woman is never around?

leroy davidson
Guest
leroy davidson

I can never forget when Jess Walton took the role of Jill. She was outstanding from the very start. She was true to the character right down the line.
I think the flashback and repeat episodes are so wonderful to see again. And I think of the people that have joined the show recently get a great insight about the past of favorite characters. And to us longtime viewers, to see those who have departed for real or for story or other purposes. I’ll surely be watching until we can get new episodes again.

Interviews

B&B’s Scott Clifton and Don Diamont Talk on the Plight of Liam & Bill and Their Cover-Up of Vinny’s Death

If you are watching current episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful then you know that Scott Clifton (Liam) and his on-screen father, Don Diamont (Bill Spencer) have been spending plenty of time together in scenes in very dramatic and intense fashion.

In story, Liam is guilt-ridden over running down Vinny Carter (Joe LoCicero) by accident when he was driving Bill’s car.  Since the moment that Vinny was killed, Bill leapt into action, destroying any evidence tying the two to the scene of the crime and continually demanding that Liam let this go and move on with his life, or the implications for the both of them could certainly be a long jail sentence, or worse.

Photo: JPI

Now as Liam is finally making headway in a reconciliation with Hope (remember his last secret – sleeping with Steffy – was quite the doozy), this new secret of what he has done, and hiding, could up the stakes even more and take him away from his family for good … or would Hope (Annika Noelle) after finding out what Liam did be the nail in his coffin that ends their relationship once and for all and kicks him to the curb?

Courtesy/CBS

Both, Scott Clifton and Don Diamont chatted virtually with Michael Fairman exclusively for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel to offer up for viewers and fans of The Bold and the Beautiful: an inside look at what goes on when they tape their scenes, how they see their characters motivations, and they serve up a preview of what may lie ahead in this tangled web that Bill and Liam have unfortunately weaved.

Photo: JPI

Check out the humorous, candid, and enlightening conversation with two of the leads and mainstays of this CBS Daytime drama series below.

Then let us know; how do you think Liam and Bill can get out of the mess they find themselves in? Will Liam crumble and spill the beans? Will everyone in town get on to them and figure out the secret they have been keeping? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section after taking a look at the virtual conversation.

Continue Reading

Days Of Our Lives

Kevin Spirtas Talks ‘After Forever’s’ Digital Special ‘Riley’s Unforgettable School Project’, The Loss of Michael Slade, and a Chance to Reprise DAYS Craig Wesley

The coronavirus pandemic has put to the test many content creators on just how they would keep their projects moving forward in ways they never dreamed of. However, out of that situation has come some of the most compelling, unique series, specials, and features currently streaming for viewers. One of which is Riley’s Unforgettable School Project, brought to you by the team from the six-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning series, After Forever.

Former Days of our Lives star, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley) has starred in and created the first two seasons of what has become the most honored Emmy-awarded LGBTQ-themed drama series on any platform.  Along with his ‘After Forever’ writing/producing partner, the late Michael Slade (DAYS, OLTL, Passions, Another World), the two also conceptualized and delivered this latest documentary-style offering now on Amazon Prime Video.

What makes Riley’s Unforgettable School Project so noteworthy is not just how they were able to execute the series based on fictional 11-year-old Riley’s virtual school project and utilize its cast, which includes: Spirtas, Cady Huffman, Jamison Stern, Lenny Wolpe, Erin Cherry, Anita Gillette, Christopher J. Hanke, and Finn Douglas, but that it was made while Slade was succumbing to his battle with cancer, and that this special marks the final script from this talented writer.

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Spirtas about making the special during Covid-19, how the death of Michael Slade has made a lasting impact on his life, what After Forever has personally meant to him, and how an official third season is still in the works, and … if he would consider a return to Salem and Days of our Lives, should they come a-calling.  Here’s what Kevin had to say about it all.

Photo: AfterForever

I think the entire story of this digital special has become even more meaningful with Michael Slade’s passing. What was the genesis of the concept? You wanted to continue the telling of the story of After Forever … but we are all in the middle of a pandemic?

KEVIN:  Yes and… when we filmed season 2, we had the scripts for season 3 already completed. It was our hope and desire to film them at the same time, back-to-back, so that we would have had all of our cast and crew together, and we could have gotten through it because we’ve always imagined this story being told in a trilogy so to speak – a beginning, middle, and end to Brian (Spirtas) and Jason, (Mitchell Anderson) and Brian’s healing or his steps towards healing through grief.  Schedules turned out that they couldn’t really work out for us to hold all the people and hold all of the sets for that amount of time.  So, we thought, “We’ve got the scripts for season 3 ready.  We’ll come back to it in the following year,” and that was always the intention, and then the pandemic hit.  So, it was shut down immediately that we weren’t going to do anything, but we wanted to stay current, and instead of going back in and telling the third installment of After Forever as a Covid-19 story as well, Michael and I sat down and looked at a way of staying relevant and current with a story within COVID, and there was born the idea to do this documentary style story/special about the characters of After Forever told through the lens of the character of Riley, the 11-year-old boy, who is now being homeschooled during the pandemic. He gets an assignment to do a project about the most unforgettable person he has ever met, and he, of course, chooses his best friend, the late Jason Adams, and he enlists all of Jason’s friends and family to join in.  Michael actually said, “What if we tell a story about Riley being homeschooled?” And, not only is Riley a technical genius at 11-years-old in the story, but Finn Douglas, who plays Riley, is a technical genius.

And didn’t Finn perform and write the song “Forever There” contained within the special?

KEVIN. Yes. He is this incredible musician.  Michael thought, “What would it be like if we asked to have the character of Finn sing a song for Jason?”  I said, “Well, what kind of song would we have him sing?”  Finn could play anything, I’m sure, because he’s self-taught, he plays by ear – guitar, piano, and drums.  Michael said, “What if we ask him to see if he could write a song?” and when we heard this song, we all called each other and we all got on Zoom and went, “Can you believe this song?  Can you believe this came out of this 11-year-old?”  It’s pretty incredible.  Michael did a gorgeous job of weaving the stories in and out and how they just sort of dove-tailed into each other, and then it was framed by Riley opening the project and ending the project.  During the Zoom reading we wanted to hear the song out loud.  We said to Finn, “Would you want to sing the song?”  We all just watched everybody on that Zoom call just fall apart.  It was just so beautiful. He’s an amazing talent.

Where is your character within this?

KEVIN:  I still stand in the center of the story of Jason because my character, Brian, was married to Jason, and it sort of connects us all, and through Riley’s understanding of how we all connect to Jason, is how we are all sort of spread out throughout the story.  Michael jokingly said, “You know, you’re not going to be the star of this special,” and I said, “I don’t think it’s about being the star.  It’s really about the storytelling.”  The beauty of Riley’s Unforgettable School Project is that we get to see moments of each person’s relationship with Jason, which Riley sets out to say, “Answer these three questions: What did you like most about Jason?  What did you like least about Jason? And what’s your favorite memory?”  Those three things, cut back and forth is where we all kind of fit in.  Nobody has more of a story than the next person, and it’s all telling honest portrayals of how they’re dealing with their loss of their good friend, or their child, or partner.

It’s a very inventive idea during Covid-19 to continue it in a way where you weren’t having to go shoot a full season of episodes.

KEVIN:  Well, we couldn’t. I have to say, Allison Vanore, who not only produced this special, but she also stepped up saying, “I’d love to direct this,” and I said, “Yes, please!”  She knows the characters.  She understands the story because she’s been a part of it for the last two seasons.  Allison also has this extraordinary amount of knowledge and expertise with the camera and what was needed for a remote shoot, and to also be able to organize filming 13 people in 2 different countries and 5 different cities… that’s just the technical side of it, but having that in our back pocket, knowing that it was a remote shoot, we had to send the camera, the computer, the ring light, and the microphone to each person’s house.  We had to location scout over Zoom.  We had to do wardrobe over Zoom.  It was all this big puzzle putting it together, and once you look at that board of storytelling and how we were going to do it, it kind of fell into place.  I feel blessed that a) we still had Michael with us, at that point, and b) Allison had the know-how to do this.  We all feel that at least this pandemic didn’t keep us from doing what we love.

Photo: AfterForever

In terms of the contribution of Michael Slade in this special, was it the construction of the story, and how was he able to work and write this during his illness?

KEVIN:  Michael’s contribution to the special was no less than the contribution to season 1 and season 2, and the future of season 3, because the scripts are written.  We did everything on Zoom, and we worked around his schedule of treatment.  We scheduled 2 people per day, and we spread them out over two weeks.  He was very present, and when there would be a day where he would say, “I’m going to be an hour late, let’s just push that call time,” I would ask, “Is this too much right now?  We can shelve it; we can stop it.” He’d then say, “Absolutely not, otherwise cancer will win.”  He was determined to stay focused and to stay active because it took his mind off of what was happening to him.

Photo: AfterForever

It would be lovely moment if you both were to win a Daytime Emmy for this project. 

KEVIN:  It’s our last collaboration together as a team, as I said, season 3 has been scripted, and it is on the calendar to get made.  We are just waiting for the COVID restrictions to lift a little bit and everyone to get vaccinated.  Michael was really hit hard with cancer – to stay healthy was so challenging for him.  Sadly, he didn’t make it to see the final edit of the special, and he died four days before we launched, but he had seen the cuts before that and was very approving of it, and had made some decisions, and offered some suggestions, and if God gives him an Emmy for this, it’s not because he died.  It’s because it’s great work.  It just happens to be that the work that was involved in this particular special was very tricky.  It brought up everything, like life itself to have to deal with.  Here we are dealing with the loss of a colleague, the loss of a friend, someone’s brother, someone’s son, this is life imitating art, imitating art imitating life. I can’t tell you the darkness that I went through just experiencing the need to stay focused on getting everything edited, and everything ready, and everything aligned for a release of this project that we had put into motion.  On top of it, our editor lost his mother just before Michael passed, and Allison’s mom was sick at the time, as well.  It took a lot of heavy deep breaths with Michael’s death, and the pandemic, and the loss has, for me, on a personal level, sent me back to really questioning my spiritual muscle and to help remind me that we have to come out of this better than we went into this.  I had many dark nights of the soul this last year, and December was probably the darkest.  I feel like I’m just kind of coming out of it now with the spring revealing itself.

Photo: AfterForever

It must have been extraordinarily difficult for you to also go to New York during a pandemic and also knowing Michael did not have much time left.

KEVIN:  I will say this: I am grateful that I was able to stay in touch with my heart and my instinct and go out to New York to let that be my remote location.  Yes, maybe there was some risk involved.  I wore my mask; I was Covid-19 negative, and I was determined to be fine.  Once I got to New York, I would visit him very protectively with our masks and our gloves, and I’d sit across the room, and then I’d go back to the house I was at.  It was a gift that I was able to see him at that time.  We had some good talks then about how he was feeling, and I think he was still being optimistic, and then once we got the project in the can there was maybe this psychic letting go. That’s when everything really started to reveal itself as this could be the end.  I did go back to see him when he was in hospice.  I think I was there the last two days that he really was able to really stay coherent.  He would close his eyes and be at peace and quiet for a minute, and he would finish a conversation and sort of close his eyes, not to sleep and not to go away, but I remember watching him going, “Look how peaceful he is,” and then he’d open his eyes and he’d remember that he is in this body that has been given a time limit of life, and he’s on his way out.  I’d watch the fear go back in his eyes.  At one point, he did say, “I’m so scared,” and I just held his hand, and I said, “I’m scared too.  Let’s be scared through this together.”  I don’t know how to navigate grief like that.  We are all going to be in a position at some point where we are going to be on the other side of the hand holding.  The wonderful thing is that we were able to have honest communication about our feelings.  I thanked him for everything that he has done for me and how he believed in my talent and creativity and our partnership.  I will always take that with me.  I waved my finger at him, and I said, “Listen.  Now, we wrote a series about a man talking to his deceased husband.  You’d better talk to me!”  So, we laughed about that.

Photo: AfterForever

You’ve done a lot of things in your career from Broadway to television, and of course, daytime fans know you best as Dr. Craig Wesley on DAYS.  How does the entire After Forever project stack up to you within all that you have done?

KEVIN:  Former DAYS casting director Fran Bascom, sought me out and offered me this 2-day role on Days of Our Lives, and those 2 days turned into 8 years, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the final 3 months of that contract of those 8 years, Michael Slade was brought in to write.  We didn’t cross paths at that point, but years later, when we did cross paths in New York, and then After Forever was born, that was that universal crossing point.  I am most proud of the fact that we were able create something fresh, and real, and personal to ourselves that we didn’t have to cater to any “powers that be” that had their vision and their tinkering, that they thought that it could be better in this way or that way.  Then for After Forever to gain such recognition, within the film festivals, and the Emmys, and then, just after Michael died, we won the GLAAD award for Special Recognition this year.  We don’t even fit into one of their categories!  They found a way to acknowledge this project.  If another Emmy happens again, that might be another one to put up on the shelf for After Forever that would be beautiful, and I couldn’t have done it without Michael.

For the Daytime Emmys this year, what category have you entered Riley’s Unforgettable School Project?

KEVIN:  We are not a series this year, we are a daytime fiction special, and the “Daytime Fiction Special” category is a special class.  It’s anything that’s digital in the construct of less than 40 minutes.  NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) is being bombarded with so much content, they’re trying to find ways to put categories together.

Photo: JPI

So, now, when we last saw Days of Lives’ Dr. Craig Wesley, where was he? (Laughs)

KEVIN: (Laughs) He was in a flash from the past or something in the DOOL app’s Last Blast Reunion series. I had a fun time working with Patrika Darbo (Nancy) and Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe), once again.

So, if they were to want Craig to come back to DAYS, would you be all for it?

KEVIN:  Hell yes!

Photo: JPI

Now, what story would you want to be told involving Craig? 

KEVIN:  When Craig was first on the canvas in Salem, there was a lot of mustache twirling and a lot of hand wringing.  He was always plotting; most of the time with Nancy.  It was kind of this high drama, evil villain storyline being told, but when the writers created an opportunity for us to be on after those first three months by bringing on Chloe without a father, there was something real about it.  It may have been told under the construct of soap opera storytelling, but there was a reality-based story about, “You have a daughter, and we are just now finding out about it?”  Then, finding a cure to her health was another realistic story, and finding out that Craig was her real father.  Anything that’s reality based is what I’m getting to.  I would welcome any job that brings me back and gives me an opportunity to dive into something real.

Photo: JPI

Would you welcome the opportunity to play a gay character on daytime; in a medium where there are very few represented in storylines?

KEVIN:  I’d have no problem with that.  Do you know anybody who is starting that?  Let’s do it!  (Laughs) First of all, there’s nothing to hide anymore.  There’s nothing to pretend you’re not anymore.  I would think that bringing in a storyline that deals with anything outside the norm that we are used to seeing would be interesting.  How many times can you retell a story?  How many times can you set the same story up with another couple?  So, why not be diverse and have a stylized story being told through the lens of a gay person.

Photo: AfterForever

In closing, so many go through life without acknowledging people who had an impact them.  We don’t give pats on the back, often enough, and especially in Hollywood, where people can be very self-involved.  You have already paid tribute to Michael Slade in our discussion, but what gift from him is your personal takeaway?

KEVIN:  The gift that Michael really gave to me is to remember to be kind to myself and to others, and to acknowledge and salute the person who is in front of us, because we don’t know when we will have, or if we will have, another moment to do that.

Now below, check out the trailer for Riley’s Unforgettable School Project.  Then let us know, what do you think of its concept? Kevin’s thoughts on the passing of his collaborator on the project, Michael Slade? And, do you hope DAYS brings back Dr. Craig Wesley? Share your thoughts via the comment section.

Continue Reading

General Hospital

GH’s Kin Shriner Talks on Franco’s Demise, Scott’s Budding Romance with Obrecht, and His Enduring On-Screen Partnership with Genie Francis

One of the most beloved actors in the history of General Hospital, Kin Shriner, currently finds his alter-ego, Scott Baldwin, in a new budding on-screen romance with none other than Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati).

This comes on the heels of Scott learning the devastating news that his son, Franco Baldwin was shot and killed, thus writing-off the ABC daytime drama series, for now, popular actor, Roger Howarth.

Photo: JPI

Throughout his now almost 44-year-run on the ABC daytime drama series, Kin Shriner has brought his unique acting chops that helped mold the character of legal eagle Scott Baldwin into the humorous, at times cutthroat, endearing and many times heartbreaking character we have all come to love.’

 

In a brand new exclusive virtual sit-down interview with Michael Fairman on You Tube’s The Michael Fairman Channel, Shriner opens up about his history with GH and the times he stepped away to take on roles on Texas and As the World Turns, and then back again to the town of Port Charles and GH.

Photo: ABC

As well, Kin reveals his reaction to learning the news that Roger Howarth would be exiting the show as his TV son and how he shot the key emotional scene where Laura (Genie Francis) tells Scott that Franco had died.  Shriner shares that he does not see how when Howarth returns to the show in as a yet-to-be-revealed character, that it would be a stretch if the two were some how related, but that he will miss working with the talented Howarth as a scene-partner.

Photo: JPI

As to the women in Scott’s life, Kin addresses each of them from: Lucy (Lynn Herring), Bobbie (Jackie Zeman), Dominque (Shell Danielson), Laura (Francis), Ava (Maura West) – to which the character could never get that close to – and now Liesl (Gati), and working opposite all the powerhouse actresses who portray them.

Photo: ABC

For fans of General Hospital who have watched the series for decades, Kin also shares memories of working with his late TV parents, Peter Hansen (Lee), Susan Brown (Gail) and his friend and former GH castmate John Reilly (Sean), plus backstage stories with his longtime scene partner, Genie Francis.

Watch the entire conversation with Kin below.

Now let us know, are you all for the Scott and Liesl romance? Will you miss scenes between Scott and Franco?  Would you ever want to see Scott and Laura reunite romantically? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Video du Jour

Y&R’s Joshua Morrow, Amelie Heinle, Mark Grossman, Hunter King and Melissa Ordway chat with Michael Fairman about being a part of and portraying the Newman Children as the show celebrates its 48th anniversary.Leave A Comment

The Michael Channel

Recent Comments

Advertisement

Power Performance

Nancy Lee Grahn as Alexis

General Hospital

Airdates: 4-8-2021

Advertisement

Popular