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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.

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leroy davidsonBarbara from AtlantaDamienLew S.Timmm Recent comment authors
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Kay
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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
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matt

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

Tez
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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

Catherine Hickland Talks On ‘ABC Daytime: Back on Broadway’, One Life to Live, and the Heartbreaking Deaths of Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds

Former One Life to Live star, Catherine Hickland (Ex-Lindsay Rappaport) along with many of her former co-stars, and actors from All My Children and General Hospital, will be taking part in tonight’s ABC Daytime: Back on Broadway livestream benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS which begins at 8 pm EST.  You can watch it here.

Ahead of the event, Catherine chatted with Michael Fairman exclusively for the Michael Fairman Channel from her home in Las Vegas; where she discussed being part of the live musical benefit that was originally created back in 2005 and lasted till 2011 as a one night only live event called: ABC Daytime: Salutes Broadway Cares.  Now 10 years later, the actors will revisit their performances as their production numbers from the past are part of the 2021 livestream to help those in need that have been hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Photo: ABC

During the conversation with Fairman, Hickland also talks on her lengthy soap opera career where she not only appeared on OLTL, but Loving/The City, Capitol, and Texas, as well. 

On a highlight, Catherine recalls playing One Life’s Lindsay and her ongoing on-screen feud with Nora Buchanan played by Hillary B. Smith.  She also speaks on her marriage to her former husband, Michael E. Knight (Ex-Tad, AMC, now Martin, GH) and working in the daytime genre and then at one time getting burnt out.

Hickland, who is now married to Todd Fisher, opened up about the devastating loss of her mother-in-law, Debbie Reynolds, and her sister-in-law, Carrie Fisher, just one day a part back in 2017, and how the couple dealt with this tragedy.  The real-life duo now host, “Cat and Todd Live” on Facebook each week.

Photo: JPI

In addition Catherine will be participating in ABC Daytime: Back on Broadway’s Virtual One-on-One Meet and Greets with the stars on Saturday, February 13th.  For info on how to participate click here.

To make a donation to Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS click here.  With a screenshot of your donation, you can enter a chance to win either “Star Wars” or Debbie Reynolds memorabilia as detailed by Catherine in this interview.

Watch Catherine’s conversation below.

Then let us know, if you loved the Lindsay/Nora feud on One Life? If you watched the livestream of ABC Daytime: Back on Broadway? And, what was your favorite part of the interview with Catherine via the comment section.

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Days Of Our Lives

Linda Dano Talks Taking On DAYS Vivian, Heartfelt Memories of Another World & Felicia Gallant, One Life to Live, Winning a Daytime Emmy & More

Currently, daytime fans are getting to see one of the most beloved actress in the history of the soap genre, Linda Dano, on NBC’s Days of our Lives in the role of the villainess Vivian Alamain.

Dano is taking on the part originally made soap-famous by Louise Sorel, and last played by Robin Strasser. Now it’s Dano’s turn to bring her own style to the role as viewers have witnessed that Vivian has kidnapped Eli (Lamon Archey) and Lani’s (Sal Stowers) twins, thanks to Viv’s sidekick, Ivan (Ivan G’Vera), and the story and all the drama continues this week.

Photo: JPI

In a very special conversation on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel, Linda chats with Michael about the challenges she faced stepping into Vivian’s shoes, and working with the cast and crew at DAYS.

 

Linda also shares her sorrow over the heartbreaking cancellation, and then taping final episode of Another World, where she played her signature soap role of Felicia Gallant for 18 years.  During her run, Dano won the Outstanding Lead Actress Daytime Emmy in 1993 for Felicia’s battle with alcoholism, which as she reveals she is still stopped on the street about to this day.

Photo:NATAS

Soap fans will recall that Dano is the only actress to crossover to all of the ABC daytime dramas when she returned to One Life to Live, (following her time on Another World), in the part of Gretel “Rae” Cummings, and we learned that Rae was the bio-mother of Skye Chandler, played by Robin Christopher.

Photo: NBC

Throughout her career, Dano also appeared on Guiding Light and As the World Turns, hosted the talk show, Attitudes and is known as one of the fashionable people in the business.  Linda formerly helped dress many of your favorite soap stars, wrote a book on having just the right look, and is always on the cutting edge of the fashion world.

As you will see, the conversation was poignant, humorous, and candid, but what else would you expect from the one and only Linda Dano?  You can watch the full chat below.

What have you thought of Linda’s portrayal of DAYS Vivian thus far? Was your favorite soap role of Linda’s … that of AW’s Felicia Gallant? What story that she shared in the conversation did you enjoy hearing about the most?  Let us know via the comment section.

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General Hospital

WATCH: The Cast of ‘Studio City’ Talk On the Latest Five Episodes & The Making of the Critically-Acclaimed Digital Drama

It’s one of the most talked about digital dramas out there, with a look and feel all its own, containing smart, witty, and dramatic plots and dialogue, and stellar performances abound.

In Amazon Prime’s Studio City, the story about life on a soap in front of the camera juxtaposed with the often harsh reality of life behind the scenes, will have any fan of the genre getting a kick out of some of the very familiar soap tropes contained within balanced with the five-hankie moments throughout  And now, Studio City has dropped their latest five episodes picking the story back up from where it left off.

Michael Fairman chatted with the cast of Studio City in his latest interview for The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube. Those taking part in this virtual conversation included: Sean Kanan (Sam), Sarah Joy Brown (Laurie), Tristan Rogers (Doc), Carolyn Hennesy (Gloria), Scott Turner Schofield (Max), Anna Maria Horsford (Jolene), and Justin Torkildesn (Jacob).  Ronn Moss, who also appears in the series playing a version of himself, was filming a movie during the scheduling of this chat, but his presence is felt when some hilarious moments featuring him and Sean Kanan were discussed.

Soap fans know these actors very well.  Kanan, Brown, Hennesy and Rogers have all, or are presently appearing, on General Hospital.  B&B fans recognize Torkilden, Horsford, Moss, and Schofield along with Kanan from their work on the CBS Daytime drama.

Getting a show up and running and then taped during the Covid-19 pandemic is no easy task as Kanan shared in the group interview.  As well, Anna Maria Horsford and Sarah Joy Brown share how they came to their parts and the rapid-fire pace in which their scenes were shot.  Tristan Rogers, who won a Daytime Emmy last year for his performance as Doc, gives another heartbreaking turn, and reveals his thoughts on the work he did, plus shares his remembrances of his late friend and GH co-star, John Reilly.

Scott Turner Schofield talks about how Sean and his wife Michele Kanan, two of the creators of the show, have given him and the transgender community a space with Max’s storyline in Studio City.  GH favorite, Carolyn Hennesy shares how she crafted her role of Gloria, the executive producer, after Jill Farren Phelps, and Daytime Emmy winner Justin Torkildsen shares how he wound up with a part in the digital drama and the scenes he shares with Hennesy.

You can check out the full Studio City cast interview below.  Then let us know, have you checked out the series? What have been your favorite moments and performances in it? Let us know in 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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