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Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks 30 Years Of Jack Abbott, His Co-Stars, And His Gratitude

Photo: CBS

When you think of the world of daytime drama, you can’t get any better than this man.  And, this week, three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman celebrates his 30th anniversary in the pivotal and now iconic role of Jack Abbott on CBS’ The Young and the Restless.

To mark the occasion, viewers are in for an emotional standalone episode on Monday, November 25th, when Jack’s sister, Traci (Beth Maitland) hands him the completed manuscript of the memoir she has been working on about the Abbott clan, and lets Jack be the first to read it.  As he goes through it, Jack recalls the ups and the downs of his life.  Get ready for some flashbacks and have the hankies ready!

Throughout the years, we have witnessed Jack do anything possible to keep control of the family business (Jabot Cosmetics).  We have watched his longstanding feud with Victor Newman (Eric Braeden), and how Jack spiraled out of control to a pain pill addiction.  As for Jack’s love life, well, that has not always been too successful.  There have been many wives and many divorces through the years.  But for Jack, it’s all about family … from his sons, to his siblings … to his mother and father, and while there has been often rivalry, there has also been deep love and affection.  All of this and more has offered 21-time Emmy nominee and soap vet, Bergman a palette to bring his honed acting skills and passion for the genre to each and every episode in which he appears.

Many a soap fan also knows that Peter got his soap star in New York as Dr. Cliff Warner on ABC’s All My Children, but who knew back then that a career-defining role was eventually going to be waiting for him in Hollywood.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Peter as he reflects on his time in Genoa City from:  his beginnings on Y&R replacing another talented actor, Terry Lester, to his Abbott family co-stars; to what this milestone means to him, to how he felt about taping the episode in his honor, and what life lessons he has learned along the way.

While we have had the good fortune to interview Peter many times over the years, this was an extra special conversation that we hope you will enjoy as we salute the one and only Mr. Bergman.

Photo: JPI

How have you liked all of the attention that has come your way surrounding your 30th anniversary on Y&R?  I know you well enough to know you don’t often like all the pomp and circumstance.  However, it’s been great to see you get the acknowledgements through: your own upcoming special Y&R standalone episode that airs Monday, your visit to The Talk recently, the satellite media tour you just did with CBS affiliate markets around the country, interviews with the press, and that very cool photo shoot spread in CBS Watch!

PETER:  (Laughs) You know, it’s so funny.  My wife, Mariellen said to me more than once in the last couple of weeks, “All of this stuff  keeps coming up, and you’ve not made a big deal of this at home,” and it’s true.  I feel like we just celebrated 25.  That seems like just 2 years ago.  But, here we are again.  Approaching all of this, CBS, Matt Kane (publicist, Y&R) and Melissa Burton (publicist, CBS) said, “So, what do we want to do?  A cake and a party?”  I said, “No, no, no.  I feel like we just did that.  Let’s just go low-key.”  So, their version of low-key is somewhat different than my version of low-key. (Laughs)  I have my own episode, and have been on talk shows galore, and have done interviews with the likes of you, and everything over 30 years.  Actually, I have to be honest, it has been great fun.  It’s surprising how much fun I’ve had.  Some of the conversations are just about wonderful memories that I have been forced to look at and cherish.  So here are a couple insights from that. I was asked, “What did you see in 30 years of tape?”  I saw a lot of storypoints that we could talk about, but I also saw all of these friendships that I have made and that I value so much.  I remember when I first got to the job.  I was this New York snob thinking, “What am I doing in this God-forsaken, cultural vacuum of a town (referring to Hollywood)?”  Oh, if only I had just embraced it from the moment I got here.  People were probably being exceedingly friendly and welcoming to me, and I didn’t even see it.  I was so busy being at malcontent.  It lasted for a long time.  I kept our apartment for 7 years in New York.  It was so clear though, that Y&R was becoming one of those gigs.  But, I still held on to that apartment, just in case, because once this thing is over, I am out of here! (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Truth be told, when I moved out to L.A, from New York I felt the same way.  I was ready to hightail it back the first chance I could.  I also should have embraced it earlier. Looking back on it now, what would you have done differently?

PETER:  Oh, if I could do it all over again, the first day, I would have sold the New York apartment, bought a surf board, bought a set of golf clubs, joined a tennis club, embraced California, reached out to my cast members, welcomed them into my life.  I didn’t do any of those things, and I am a little embarrassed by that because look at what it tuned into.  I have joked before that I was dragged kicking and screaming to the best thing that has ever happened to me.  These past couple of weeks have been a reminder that that’s actually true.

Photo: JPI

I remember when you first took over the role of Jack Abbott.  You were a recast taking over the part last played by Terry Lester.  What I always loved about all of our conversations, or conversations that I’ve seen you do with others, is that you always say that you feel a connection to those performers who come onto Y&R or any other soap, who have to step into the shoes of a character previously played by another actor.

PETER:  That’s right. I do indeed.  I am their best friend.  I make sure I find anyone who finds themselves in that situation and I have a conversation with them; for instance: Mark Grossman (Adam, Y&R) just the other day.  I said, “Mark, you’ve been here long enough.  You’ve now established Adam.  You don’t have to look back at what anyone else did with this character.  Now we have to tell Mark Grossman’s version of Adam,” and he did welcome that advice because yeah, it’s a hard thing to do.  It’s a hard thing to step into a role that’s been played by someone else before

Knowing that, was there trepidation on your part once you got the role of Jack?

PETER:  Oh, yeah.  I’m telling you, every prop person, every set decorator, every lighting person knew more about Jack Abbott than I did.  It was daunting.  It was really daunting.  I’d try something, “Eh, I’m going to try this,” and they’d cut it short and go, “No, no,” and they were right!  They were helping to guide me towards making this my own, but we do this in baby steps.  I’m just amazingly grateful.  This has been a time of gratitude, and it has surprised me.

Photo Credit: JPI

When you found out that Y&R was going to air a 30th anniversary episode in honor of you and the character of Jack Abbott, what was your reaction to that?

PETER:  My first reaction was some reluctance, “Is that going to be interesting at all?” and my second reaction was, “Wow!  That’s pretty damn flattering.”  I’m genuinely honored and flattered by that.  That really touched me.

In the anniversary episode that viewers will see on Monday, was there a scene that you did that just either gut-punched you … or made you think about something that transpired over the years differently, or was just so emotional for you?

PETER:  There were several that gut-punched me.  There were a few emotional highlights of stories, and emotional peaks of stories in there.  If I had to pick one thing to take away from it, and this is kind of curious because I was surprised by this. I watched my relationship with so many different people and thought about how they’ve changed or grown.  I watched scenes with Phyllis, and thought, “This is probably Jack’s most painful loss.”  There is something just inherently oil and water with them.  This old money, somewhat straight-laced guy, and this crazy-ass girl from the other side of the tracks, like no woman he ever met at the country club.  I watched those scenes, and I thought, “Wow, that is terrific,” and I thought of it from Jack’s perspective, and I thought, “These two people never got out of love.  It just got too painful between them.”  That really stood out to me.  There were scenes that I saw a lot of Jack exposed in.  He covers himself pretty well with lots of people.  He was pretty exposed for a while.  He doesn’t give it away to just anybody.  I watched those scenes and there was an emotional honestly in there that was kind of startling.

Photo: JPI

Jack has had been married several times, and had five divorces along the way.  Some of the women in his life have included: Sharon, Nikki, Luan, Patty, Jill, and Phyllis.

PETER:  That’s right.  There was Patty.  Nikki a couple of times.  There were a few women, and every one of them changed Jack.  The Jack that I watched in the progression of this show… … the Jack when I first got there … was a pretty selfish guy.  He was out for himself and pretty much through Nikki and then through others, learned compassion.  Jack earned empathy in a way he hadn’t before, and we watched him build a conscience in the progress of telling Jack’s story.

At this point, Jack needs to have a woman in is life that can be one of the great loves and relationships of his lifetime.  Do you think he’d be prepared for that now?

PETER:  Oh yes.  Strangely enough, I think he’s more prepared for that now than ever before.  Part of Jack’s problem always with these women is that all of these women paid for Dina’s sins.  He expected every one of them to leave.  It was almost a foregone conclusion.  The most important woman of his life left when he was 14, and one by one all these other women left him.

Photo: JPI

Is there someone in a primetime series, motion pictures, daytime, the theatre, who would you love to see play your love interest on Y&R?

PETER:  Who would I love to see play my love interest?  Gosh, I wish I had an answer to that.  I think just bring her on.  I’ll make it work.  I think that’s a side of Jack that we haven’t gotten to see for a while, and I agree with you.  I think now, he actually might be ready for a two-way relationship that isn’t all about him, that is based on some truth, that is based on looking out for someone else as much as he looks out for himself.  I think he is more ready for that now than he has ever been.  We’ll see if they are ready to invest in that, and if that is something they’re ready to see.

You’ve had 21 Daytime Emmy nominations in acting categories, but I want to nominate you for “Best Chair-Throwing in a Daytime Drama Series”.

PETER:  (Laughs)  You can only do it in one take.  They don’t have several sheets of glass, so it had better work when you do it.

Remember; when you did that now classic chair throw in the showdown between Jack and Victor (Eric Braeden)?

PETER:  Yes, The first one was with Eric Braeden.  My favorite part of that story is Mike Denney was directing it, and I pulled Mike aside as we were blocking it.  I said, “Wouldn’t there be just crazy wind at that level, that high up?   Wouldn’t the wind be nuts?” and Mike had like three fans brought in, and I looked over, and Eric Braeden’s hair was everywhere.  Mine had blown from one part of my scalp to the other. (Laughs)  It was this wind storm that made it all the more dramatic.  I loved the finished product of that, and I got to have a little hand in it.

Photo: JPI

And the second was more recent when Jack finds out about Ashley’s duplicity and throws the chair threw the glass at Jabot

PETER:  The second chair throwing through a window with Ashley was just pure animal, anger, disgust, revulsion, everything black in Jack coming out that way, and that stupid glass shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but we put that in.  (Laughs)

I can’t wait for the next chair throw!

PETER:  I’m practicing just in case!

Photo: JPI

I’m going to name a few cast members of the Abbott clan, and if you could just give me a few words about working with each of them through the years that would be great.  Let’s start with Beth Maitland (Traci).

PETER:  Beth Maitland, the beating heart and soul of the Abbott family, the conscious of the Abbotts, the keeper of the family secrets, she knows everything, and she’s kept it to herself.  A generous, kind, thoughtful, hard-working, and really responsible friend.

Eileen Davidson (Ashley) …

PETER:  Eileen Davidson… exotic, smart as a whip, and a lot funnier than most people know.  She makes me laugh until I cry.  She is at once beautiful and funny, and that is a lethal combination.

Photo: JPI

Jerry Douglas (John) …

PETER:  Jerry Douglas… just a sweet, sweet man who has always had such ease in playing my father that it made it easy to be his son.  He was a generous actor that way.

Jason Thompson (Billy) …

PETER:  Jason Thompson … naturally cool.  There are two things that Jason has that seem to be contradictory.  He is cool and at the same time warm-loving and…. just sweet.  Kind.  That doesn’t happen.  There is a cool about Jason that has always been there.  It just comes totally naturally to him, and at the same time you see this love and warmth and genuine kindness.

Photo:JPI

Marla Adams (Dina) …

PETER:  Marla Adams, that sweetheart of a woman who loves to break into song at a moment’s notice, just makes me smile, and from the moment she came back is a daily reminder to be grateful for work, to be grateful for this job.  She is a walking reminder that we are lucky, lucky actors, and she is a very talented woman.

Photo JPI

Michael Mealor (Kyle) …

PETER:  Michael Mealor, a 28-year-old man with the soul of a 50-year-old man.  He is so evolved.  He is so bright, asks smart questions. Michael is a wise, wise man for his age and experience.  He constantly surprises me.  He constantly amazes me, and all of that with a sense of humor is a cool thing.

Photo: JPI

What do you think your longtime castmate, the late Kristoff St. John (Ex-Neil) would say to you if he were here for your 30th anniversary with Y&R?

PETER:  Oh, Kristoff St. John was always so generous with accolades, with commendations, with compliments.  I think Kristoff would look at this as a great thing for me, and a great thing for him, and a great thing for the show.  He was just that generous.  I miss him on a regular basis.  That was a generous, generous heart, and a tragic end to a vibrant life.

In story, and just in time for your 30th, Jack is back as the CEO of Jabot.  Billy has resigned, and now upon learning Theo (Tyler Johnson) is family, Jack gets Theo to stay in Genoa City and not go to Paris to work with Ashley and become part of the Jabot team.  Will Jack thrive this time as CEO?

PETER:  Yes, Jack is back to taking the reins at Jabot.  I think that is as it should be.  I think it is very hard for the audience or anyone to see, “Wait Jabot without Jack? I’m not sure what that is.”  So, yes, I’m happy to be back and happy to be working regularly with Michael Mealor and Hunter King (Summer) and the whole gang over there, and now Theo.  Tyler Johnson is just fantastic.  What a really neat guy… a young philosopher who is well-read and has this curious, curious mind that makes us all smile.

Photo: JPI

When did you know that the Victor/Jack feud was lightning in a bottle?

PETER:  I think it snuck up on me.  Ten years in, I realized, “Wait a second, this actually is a rivalry for the ages.”  I knew very early on that Victor Newman’s presence in Jack’s life made Jack a more interesting character.  I fully understood that and a great credit to Eric Braeden and what he and I got to establish together (what he established first of all with Terry Lester and what he and I got to continue).  So, this enduring rivalry is a now part of, I think, television history.  I don’t know if there is any rivalry that has lasted this long on one show … ever.

Which of these Jack nicknames is your favorite?  “Jackie”, which his family calls him, “Jackie Boy”, which John Abbott called him, “Jacko”, which Brad Carlton called him, and “Goddamn Jack Abbott” which is what Victor called him! (Laughs)  And, there is of course, “Smiling Jack” as the character has been referred to over time.

PETER:  I hear the name “Jackie”, and it is only used by my on-screen sisters and so that makes me smile.  They call me “Jackie” a lot.  “Smiling Jack”, I never fought that, but “Jackie” always feels good.

Photo: F. Scott Schafer/CBSWatch!

You know when people say, “Peter Bergman” the words associated with that are: “class act”, “respect”, “gracious” and “one helluva an actor”  So in closing, what would you want to say to the fans that have supported you and loved your character for 30 years on this show? 

PETER:  I am so grateful, and genuinely surprised with the way the audience has connected with my friend Jack Abbott.  I am so grateful that they have allowed Jack to grow and change.  I am so grateful that the audience always wants to know Jack’s side of the story, and just those things make it possible for me to do the greatest job that anyone could ever have.  I have the greatest job thanks to all of those qualities in the people who watch the show.

Share your thoughts on 30 years of memorable performances of Peter Bergman and your favorite Jack Abbott moments via the comment section below.  But first, check out the promo for Monday’s standalone episode of Y&R in honor of Bergman, a video shared with international broadcasters and the media of the milestone, and one of Peter’s Daytime Emmy-winning moments.

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Jennifer MartinRichard SignorellimattKayDMRR Recent comment authors
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Su000
Guest
Su000

Petter deserves high praise for his Jack role..
30 years WOW half a lifetime, he is very committed.

but– (always a but lol)

His character is so wimpy..
Jack is a sucker
The best word to describe the Jack character is-
…..GULLIBLE …
 
The Abbot family is BLAH in comparison to the rockin’ Newman family..
Anyways..
Jack wouldn’t be Jack without Victor who wouldn’t be Victor without Jack.. (figure that one out lol)

CONGRATULATIONS PETTER !! FOR 30 GREAT YEARS!!
Y&R WOULDN’T BE what it is WITHOUT YOU !!

Gloria
Guest
Gloria

He has such a distinctive look & voice & even though he’s played Jack on Y&R for so long I still, every time I see his face I can’t help but think of Cliff & Nina on All My Children. I can hear him on that show! A part of me will always think of him as Cliff who I loved so much as an 18 yr old, ha. Y&R was lucky to get him & he’s been lucky to stay there! ALL GOOD!

Kay
Guest
Kay

Gloria most definitely the best chemistry he ever had was with Taylor Miller/Nina !!! They were what in those times they called a Super Couple!

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

He is who you think he is, a nice, warm individual who somehow got to shine in the gloom and doom of Hollywood! Peter, I wish you 30 more years of anything you wish for!

Momo
Guest
Momo

What a classy guy. Peter is fabulous and Jack. Congratulations on 30 years at Y&R!!!

DMRR
Guest
DMRR

I love him; and I loved him as Cliff on AMC.
Congratulations, “Jackie.”

matt
Guest
matt

Watching the episode today, the writers missed a perfect potential storyline. Rather than Theo being the son of a dead unseen brother, he should have been the John who received the heart transplant from Jack and Niki’s baby… That would have made the entire Summer connection even more interesting…

Richard Signorelli
Guest
Richard Signorelli

great actor and a class act

Jennifer Martin
Guest
Jennifer Martin

Congratulations Peter. You took Jack Abbott and made him your own. You are Jack Abbott. May you have many more years on Y&R

Days Of Our Lives

Watch the Replay: GH, DAYS, Y&R, B&B & OLTL Stars at Michael Fairman’s Virtual Birthday Party for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 Relief Fund

Earlier this week on Monday night, several of the stars of General Hospital, Days of our Lives, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and One Life to Live, took part in a virtual livestream “party” for Michael Fairman’s 60th birthday.

The event was held virtually to help performers in need who have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic by letting viewers know where to make a donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Photo: ABC, NBC, CBS

Participating throughout the 90 minute livestream were: The Young and the Restless, Jason Thompson, Sharon Case, and Christian LeBlanc, General Hospital’s Maurice Benard, Laura Wright, Wes Ramsey, and Chloe Lanier, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Katherine Kelly Lang, Days of our Lives’ Rob Scott Wilson, Eric Martsolf, Galen Gering, Arianne Zucker, Shawn Christian, Santa Barbara favorite, A Martinez, One Life to Live’s Kristen Alderson and Eddie Alderson, and Studio City’s Sean Kanan.

You can catch the replay of the birthday benefit event below or on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

Throughout the evening, the actors shared stories of how they got their SAG card, played a game of Michael’s trivia, and revealed stories about themselves and other “party” guests in a wonderful display of community and camaraderie at all went down live!

Since March of 2o2o, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has given out more than $6.2 million in emergency aid to over 6,500 SAG-AFTRA performers and their families facing hardship and uncertainty during this pandemic. Thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists have found themselves in dire need of assistance to help pay their rent, buy groceries, cover health care premiums and other bills.  You can still make a donation of any dollar amount to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 relief fund here. https://members.sagfoundation.org/donate 

Now, check it out below, and let us know if you enjoyed the virtual birthday party livestream via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH Co-Head Writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor Interview – “Soapmakers of the Year” Honors 2020

In a year which saw production of your favorite soaps shutdown for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone in daytime had to pivot.  As original episodes aired, they eventually ran out, giving way to rebroadcasts, while the audience eagerly awaited the return of the current stories.

At General Hospital, once production resumed over the summer, head writers, Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor had teed-up: surprising homecomings (Dante, Britt) shocking twists and revelations, the conclusion of what will become an all-time soap classic, the Alzheimer’s storyline, dipping into the rich 57-year history of the iconic soap to tie story to the present (Laura, Cyrus, Martin), and crafting stories for its A-list cast which gave 2020 some of its finest on-screen moments.  GH became can’t-miss television again, coming back even stronger than its pre-pandemic self; which also kicked the year off in high-style with the reveal of Nikolas to his family, alive and well, and the long-awaited truth about baby Wiley.

Chris and Dan’s depiction of Mike’s heartbreaking battle with Alzheimer’s gave viewers many tears through its unrelenting and realistic storytelling, plus their commitment to air the standalone episode to honor the passing of the 19th amendment of the women’s right to vote in November.  Both were noteworthy, and illustrated what daytime can do best.

 

Each year, Michael Fairman TV gives our highest honor to a creative or creatives who most delivered to its audience and whose quality of work continues to keep us engaged, on the edge of our seats, or reaching for the hankies. That is why this year’s Soapmkers of the Year honor goes to GH scribes: Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor.  Shortly after receiving their acknowledgement, the duo spoke to us about some of the 2020 highlights in Port Charles, and how they work so well together to bring their stories to life.  Here’s what they shared.

Courtesy/ABC

First, and foremost, I want to commend you for the Alzheimer’s storyline  As I’ve shared publicly, my mother died of Alzheimer’s, and I have seen the progression of this disease and the effects it has on a family and loved ones, and the person afflicted with it.  You did a beautiful job of telling every beat of the story within the context of what you could do within a soap opera.  What can you tell me about crafting that and seeing it through to the end?  You never abandoned the story, which at times, can happen on daytime.

CHRISNo, we didn’t abandon it.  Soap operas have a power that I am sure we have acknowledged before, to allow audiences to really get to know characters in a deeper and more profound way than I think most other mediums do.  We get to see characters’ lives day in and day out.  For us to tell a story about Alzheimer’s, which is a disease that is devastating in so many ways, not the least of which is the fact that it can take years to develop and years to finally claim a life, we felt that among our audience, there had to be many people who had experienced this in an up-close and personal way.  So that to tell the story too expeditiously would really deny their experience and would take away from their appreciation of the show as a reflection of reality.  Of course, soap operas don’t do that in every sense on every episode, but when you’re telling a story about a disease that people experience every day, you have an obligation to reflect the real-world experience.  So, by bringing it to a close too fast and by doing it in a way that didn’t honor what at times is the horror of the disease, felt like it would be a cop-out.  We wanted to do our best within the constrictions of the medium to depict that; while at the same time, of course, not wanting to leave people so depressed as to not want to tune back in.  It was a really delicate dance.  We are very grateful to have had the support of the network and Frank Valentini’s (executive producer, GH) ingenious production team as well as a great repertory of actors who were willing and able to give their all to this story.

Courtesy/ABC

Maurice Benard (Sonny) did some of his finest work of his career in this story, and you gave him the ball to do it, and Max Gail (Mike) was amazing.  Two standout episodes included: when Mike passed and was taken to heaven by Courtney (Alicia Leigh Willis) and Mike’s funeral episode.  Did you realize when you were writing it, the impact it would have on the audience?

DANAs for the funeral, I’d say that we knew as we were writing it that not only did we want to give the characters and the audience a chance to say goodbye to Mike, but we also wanted to give the performers a chance to say a goodbye to their relationship with the actor, Max Gail as well.  Max is a fantastic, phenomenal actor, and he formed close relationships with many of our performers.  So, when we wrote the episode, yes, we did want to give the audience a chance to say goodbye to the character, but we also knew that because of the close relationships that these performers have made with each other that the actors were going to bring their all, and it was going to provide the audience with some powerhouse performances.

Did you get emotional seeing it? 

CHRIS:  Oh, personally, I cried.

Courtesy/ABC

I know you both love and appreciate the soap genre and understand that the audience often wants a good cry and is invested in these characters.  So because of that; what’s it like for you when you see these emotional moments play out that start in your mind, go to the page, then to the stage, and now are out in the world for people to see and experience?

CHRIS:  I can’t speak for any of the other writers, but I’m not crying when I’m writing it, but I’m crying when I see it realized and how the actors, and the producers, and the directors realize it.  I personally am always surprised by the nuance and the beats that they find that we, in our first draft kind-of-lifestyle that we have as soap opera writers; where we are writing six or seven episodes per week, we don’t have the time or the luxury to really sit with an episode and mine it for every single beat and every emotion. That’s why we have great directors and great actors who take these scripts and find these extra moments.  So, it is really gratifying to watch – yes, to see something that we’ve imagined be produced and personified, but then to see how the production then takes it in other directions, that’s the best.  I think that’s the most gratifying part of writing for a show, not seeing what you’ve written produced, but seeing how it was parented into life.  When you have a baby, I think you have all sorts of ideas about what the baby will be, and then the baby becomes something else as the result of its environment and of the people who are influencing and guiding it along and that may be a bit of a stretched metaphor, but it kind of feels relative.

As co-head writers of General Hospital, how do you work together to come up with long-term story?  What is your process?

DAN:  Chris and I will meet regularly and discuss the long-term stories that we are telling, and plan to tell, and maybe some adjustments that we have to make along the way.  We get to meet with our writers several days every week as we figure out the best way to tell that story in the form of however many episodes we write a week.  Chris and I also write episodes along with our great breakdown script team, and every week we figure out the best way to either stay on the path of the story we are intending to tell, or find new opportunities or new twists and turns we can take along the way.

Photo: ABC

Do you get into friendly, creative disagreements? Is one of you more protective of a certain character than the other? 

DAN:  Chris and I have known each other for close to 15 years at this point, and we are not just colleagues, we are also friends.  There is a certain amount of shorthand that we have with each other which is just invaluable in telling story.  What’s great is that we sometimes come at the story from different angles or we have a different point of view, much like any two fans of the show wouldn’t agree on necessarily everything, but in our discussions about the show’s needs, wants, and haves, and the story trajectory, we ultimately get somewhere better than where either of us could have come up with on our own.  At the same time, there are those moments where we both come to the same idea at the same moment, and that’s definitely when we go, “Okay, we’re onto something good.”

CHRIS:  I can add as a partial translation that I can get really snippy, and Dan has the patience of a saint.  So, often times, I need 24 hours to go away, and sleep on something, and wake up, and say, “Oh Dan, you were totally right about that.  I’m so sorry I was snippy the other day,” and he doesn’t seem to hold it against me.

Do you ever get a writer’s block; as has to happen often with scribes in the unrelenting medium of daytime drama, and if so, I would think having a writing partner would be an asset during those times?

DAN:  I think it’s the nature of the beast.  At a certain point, you might hit a roadblock somewhere, but that’s why having a partner is so valuable that there is somebody else that you can bounce ideas along with, and just as, if not more importantly, our team of writers are always there to sometimes give us even better ideas than what we would have come up with on our own.

Courtesy/ABC

This year you utilized and delved back into a lot of GH history.  How did the idea come about to bring back the character of Jackie Templeton and have former All My Children and NYPD Blue favorite, Kim Delaney, take on the role?

DAN:  Jackie Templeton is a character who has been an Easter egg on the show for many years now.  Whenever we needed to namedrop a famous journalist, she was always our go-to.  It always felt like the character was in the ether of Port Charles for awhile, and we were excited to bring this take-no-prisoners character back and explore her history with Robert (Tristan Rogers), and at the same time, we were finally teed up to tell the story of Finn’s (Michael Easton) falling out with his father and step-mother, and we realized we had a great opportunity to have the character serve both stories and collide with not just Anna (Finola Hughes) and Finn, but Robert as well. Those three played wonderfully with each other. When we heard that Kim Delaney was interested in playing with us, we were just over the moon.  .

Courtesy/ABC

You have also been delving back into Laura’s childhood past and her history. I love that you brought up the death of David Hamilton and her teenage years, which hasn’t been discussed for a very long time on the show while tying it into the present.

DAN:  We were always aware of the story just because we love General Hospital and we love the character of Laura, and there is nothing else like daytime drama, and one of the great things about it is that you can reach decades into the past and expand on stories and themes that the audience actually witnessed. Long reaching history is a tool in our toolbox that not many other series have.  Chris and I love honoring and using our characters’ histories to propel the show into the future with some serious momentum.

Photo: ABC

You created and brought the character of  Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober) on to the canvas. Was it originally a case of, “We need an uber-villain to come and shake things up,” and then you decided to connect him to Laura?  It’s been an intriguing shocker for viewers.  Jeff is playing the multi-levels of Cyrus with great finesse, and whenever you give Genie something, the fans go nuts, and she, in turn, delivers every time.

CHRIS:  The story of Cyrus has a couple of phases to it.  We wanted to bring on a villain who would not only be an adversary to Sonny, but someone who we could use to really test Jordan (Briana Nicole Henry) and Curtis (Donnell Turner), and we knew going in that the first phase of this story would really hit the Corinthos family and also the Ashfords, and as we developed it, we thought about what the act two would be, and we knew that we had an opportunity to really engage Genie Francis and to expand her sphere and expand her footprint on the show, and by connecting her to Cyrus, who is not your typical face or presence for a soap, but is also not your typical person who I think Laura would encounter in her daily life.  So, we knew, as we really developed Cyrus as a villain, that for Laura to find out that this man is her brother, would really allow us to play with Laura in a different context and in a different light and really give Genie a new kind of challenge.

Speaking of Genie, what did you think when you watched back her performance in the episode where you wrote that Laura has to say goodbye to her comatose daughter, Lulu (Emme Rylan), before she was sent off the canvas to a long-term care facility?

CHRIS:  I mean to me, that’s vintage Laura.  I came to General Hospital personally in the late 80s to early 90s, so my experience of Laura really only begins with her, and Luke (Tony Geary), and Lucky (Jonathan Jackson) at the Triple L Diner.  I think that what we’ve gotten to see with Genie is really reflective of the high emotion that she is capable of delivering.  At the same time as the high emotion, you’re also seeing really small human moments that she really breathes a lot of life into.  I can speak for Dan and myself when we say that we are just really thrilled with what she has been able to bring to the screen.  Thrilled, but I guess not surprised.

Coutesy/ABC

Nelle (Chloe Lanier) was such a great interloper and threat throughout the year in story; whether it’s hatching plots to gain custody of baby Wiley, or her “death” scene and confrontations with Carly (Laura Wright).  However, through all of this, when was it decided to make Nina (Cynthia Watros), Nelle’s biological mother?

DAN:  There are very few things that are as exciting on a soap as a character that makes you wonder what they are going to do next, and Chloe and Nelle provided that role with just gusto.  The truth is, the idea that Nelle was Nina’s daughter has been a part of the conception of that character, and over the last few years, the story evolved, and we ultimately got to reveal the truth to the audience.

Courtesy/ABC

As writers, there has to be characters that are just so delicious and treacherous to write for that you have to get a kick out of it! Chloe Lanier is so good that she makes the audience want to slap Nelle when she takes the dialog and then brings it to the screen.  

CHRIS:  It is tremendous fun.  Yes, yes, we love writing for these characters who are willing to do and say anything to get what they want.  We are constrained when writing for characters who have morality.  It takes a moral character a lot of really difficult circumstances for them to make a decision that might go against the grain, but when you have a character like Nelle, who is not shackled by certain societal norms, then you really get to live out the worst impulses that a person could have, and it’s really fun, especially when you take a really great performer like Chloe and see her as Nelle unleash all of the poison that she’s capable of.  At the same time, she can turn on a dime and rip your heart out a little bit when she turns on the water works.

Photo :ABC

Ava Jerome’s (Maura West) story this year had her moving into a relationship with Nikolas (Marcus Coloma).  We, the audience, didn’t know how that was going to go – if they were just going to use each other, or ultimately fall in love.  Was that the plan all along … that they would develop deep feelings for each other, or did you want to see how it progressed and played out on-screen, and then make that determination?

CHRIS:  I think that once we saw the chemistry between the two actors, we knew we had gold. So, we wanted to take our time, especially the way that it was constructed.  These were two people who had little use for each other emotionally, and in fact, probably wanted to see one another’s downfall, and that’s what makes it so great to write – that these are people who, in a similar vein as Nelle, don’t live by the same rules as most of the rest of us, and therefore, they might do things to each other that the rest of us would not do to anyone let alone whether we like them or not.  That’s what makes Ava and Nikolas so delicious is that from one moment to the next, you don’t know if they’re going to hatch a plot against each other or fall into bed and ravish each other. That’s what I think we hope to continue to play as we go forward because they certainly have very strong, passionate feelings for one another.  When you’re talking about Ava and Nikolas, these are two people who do not have a lot of fans necessarily in Port Charles, and there are a lot of people who don’t necessarily want to see them achieve happily ever after.  Knowing that there was so much initial mistrust and suspicion between the two of them could really provide the foundation for their own undoing or their undoing from someone who does not want to see them happy.

Photo: ABC

Back in November, GH made good use of a standalone episode spotlighting the history of the women’s right to vote and the suffrage movement; just as the presidential election was happening.  What made you decide to write this special show, and how do you feel it turned out as it also spotlighted the female cast?

CHRIS:  We had long intended to honor the one hundred years of American women’s suffrage with a special episode to air on the anniversary of the 19th amendment’s passage, but we missed the date due to the pause in production.  We realized we had a second chance as the election neared.  Going forward was a no-brainer. The biggest challenge was in distilling such an epic story into one episode. We think ABC would do well to consider a spinoff: “Port Charles, 1920”

Courtesy/ABC

You have such a powerhouse cast to write for.  It’s loaded.  It’s got to be a challenge for you to construct the story for GH when you’ve got to front burner people and back burner people, and then you’ve got these huge daytime stars all in one show.

DAN:  It’s an embarrassment of riches to have a cast as talented as we do quite frankly.  We are fortunate enough that we know that we have these amazing performers that we can trust with whatever stories that we throw their way.

CHRIS:  I will say that we do have a great cast.  They’re all wonderful, and when you have a show that is only approximately 35 minutes of airtime on any day, it’s a real balancing act to make sure that everybody gets a story that really is worthy of their talents, and we’ve got one for everybody.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of which story takes precedence in which moment, which is why occasionally some characters aren’t featured on a daily basis, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be.  If you were to ask me, “Who are the standouts?”  I would say all of them.  You saw this year: Maurice Benard, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Maura West, Genie Francis, and Laura Wright (Carly) to name but just a few.  They’ve all done such fantastic work, and we can’t wait to give them more material to give them more moments to shine.

DAN:  A priority of ours is every week, we meet up and look (well, it’s virtual now during Covid-19) at the big board of our cast photos and we go through each character and always make sure that they have some story percolating even if it’s not on the air at the moment.

Photo: ABC

As we close out 2020, and look forward to 2021, any parting thoughts, and perhaps a tease of what GH fans can look forward to in the New Year?

CHRIS:  In general, I would just say that despite all of the challenges of the year, we are really grateful to our cast and the crew back in Los Angeles for realizing and improving the show that we imagined, and we are so excited for everything that is coming in 2021.  We hope to continue to throw a lot of surprises at the audience, and at the same time give them a lot of moments and stories of heart and love and excitement.

So, what did you think of the year in story on General Hospital in 2020? Share your thoughts on Chris and Dan’s comments and their year-end honors via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Stephen Nichols and Lucas Adams Talk Salem Longevity, Tripp’s Predicament and Their Co-Stars

Days of our Lives stars Stephen Nichols (Steve “Patch” Johnson) and his on-screen son, Lucas Adams (Tripp Dalton) are in the middle of plenty of drama on the long-running NBC daytime drama, which recently celebrated its 55th anniversary in November and its 14,000 episode milestone in December.

In a new chat with Michael Fairman on the Michael Fairman Channel, Stephen reveals his surprise at still being with the iconic show. while Lucas talks about how his first run on DAYS came to an abrupt end, but now he is deep in-story involving Allie (Lindsay Arnold) and the brother he is yet-to-know he has, Charlie (Mike Manning), who is Allie’s actual rapist.

Both Stephen and Lucas discuss having the opportunity to work with Daytime Emmy winner Tamara Braun (Ava) again, as well as James Lastovic (Joey) in recently aired scenes. In story, Ava has returned back-from-the-dead and realizes she has major trouble brewing with her two sons, Tripp and Charlie.  How will it all play itself out?

 

Check out what Stephen and Lucas shared below.  Then, be on the lookout beginning this week, as Steve and John (Drake Hogestyn) work together to figure out who is responsible for Allie’s rape and just who is the biological father to her child, when it is not Tripp!

Share your thoughts on the sentiments shared by Stephen and Lucas in the interview via the comment section.

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