Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview: Ming-Na Goes From Oakdale to Outer Space

Stargate Universe, the third incarnation of the successful Stargate series, premiered to high ratings and rave reviews in October. Ming-Na (pictured, second from left) — who got her start in the biz by playing Lien Hughes on the daytime soap opera As the World Turns, then followed with starring roles in The Joy Luck Club and Mulan, and rounded out her resume with ER — co-stars on the outer-space adventure series playing the role of Camile Wray.

For those unfamiliar with Stargate, this particular series focuses on a group of soldiers, scientists and civilians who, while fleeing an attack, travel through a stargate and find themselves stranded far from Earth on a mammoth spaceship known as the Destiny.

Ming-Na explains what makes this series different from the others: “In SGU, it’s a whole new cast, although some of the originals do make appearances. It’s a different feel and vibe to the show. It’s more character-driven. I don’t want to say that it’s darker, because there are a lot of light scenes, but it definitely has a more serious tone. Also, we will not have rubber-suited aliens. We have these amazing CGI-ed aliens. Trust me — they look fantastic.”

Ming-Na is no stranger to science fiction. In fact, she has been a fangirl for much of her life. “I have been a sci-fi fan since I was very young,” she says. “I was president of the science-fiction club when I was in high school. It’s such a great genre.

“What I do as an actress is pretend, so a part of me never has to grow up. I love having kids because I get to continue to pretend with them. That is what is so great about sci-fi, and especially SGU. It encompasses such an intellectual world of science and physics, and it’s mooshed into something that is entertaining and creative.”

According to Ming-Na, her character, Camile, is a very complex character, which was a big reason she wanted to play her. “She starts off being someone you think is very by the book. As you get to know her, you feel like there is such a vulnerable side to her. She masks it with her ambition and her drive to prove something.

“She is also a lesbian. That is a real challenge, as I’ve never played a lesbian character before. It definitely adds a layer that is very unique to who she is and how she approaches her job and the men she has to work with. At the same time, it is not something that makes her vastly different — it is just a part of who she is.”

Ming-Na is excited to be working with such a talented group of actors. “I feel so privileged to get to work with this cast. With Robert Carlyle (Dr. Nicholas Rush), it’s just so fun to watch him work. And David Blue (Eli Wallace) is hilarious. A lot of the actors have theater training, so we all really believe in the ensemble and really respect it. It’s just a great environment to work in.”

Another great working experience for Ming-Na was the time she spent in the early ’90s on ATWT. She reveals: “I loved working on ATWT. That was so much fun and such a great experience. Prior to that, I was theater trained, so that was my first camera training, and I learned a lot from that.

“The weird thing is that on SGU, they want me to keep growing my hair longer — I guess they haven’t found a beauty salon yet on any of the planets we’ve visited — so I feel like I am going back to my Lien Hughes length of hair. I’ve actually been thinking of Lien a lot lately because if it. I don’t have those bangs though.”

You can catch Ming-Na on Stargate Universe on Friday nights at 9/8 CST on the SyFy channel. You can also catch up on episodes (if you have missed any) on

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spend the Day with Days Nov. 7th

BREAKING NEWS: Victor Is Back!

Unless you've been under a rock, you know that Eric Braeden, aka Victor Newman of The Young and the Restless, was as good as gone from his 30-year tenure on the No. 1 rated soap. (In case you were indeed under said rock, check out my previous interview with Eric to get the scoop.)

Well, the news broke just before the weekend that both sides had hammered out a deal and Eric has inked a new three-year deal with the soap — and a collective PHEW! could be heard throughout the industry. I spoke with Eric about this wonderful news last night, and he was definitely back to his happy self, with a lift in his voice that I was very glad to hear.

Daytime Dial: So tell me, last I heard, you were as good as gone. How did it come about that you were able to come to an agreement?

Eric Braeden: I can only talk about my experiences in the world of sports, where you fight tooth and nail, and afterward you have a beer. This was a hard fight, no question about that. It hung by a thread, to be honest with you. We came to a mutually beneficial arrangement. But it was a tough fight. And there’s give and take, as there is in sports.

DD: How did the tide turn?

EB: Both sides made certain gestures to continue negotiating.

DD: How are you feeling now that this is all settled?

EB: To be frank, what really deeply moved me was the reaction of the fans. I did not expect that and it has touched me greatly.

DD: I know a lot of fans will be happy to have you back — if you've kept up with any of the message-board chatter, then you know public opinion was definitely leaning toward you.

EB: I was made aware of it and I read a lot of it, and it really affected me in a very emotional way. I did not expect that kind of reaction, and I am deeply grateful for it, and I am deeply humbled by it.

DD: You must have been going through a lot internally, because you were off the show for a few weeks and you had probably gotten into the mind set of "I'm not Victor Newman anymore."

EB: When you go through something like this, it is sort of like a divorce, in a sense, because 30 years is a long time. Thirty years of having given whatever you can as an actor, emotionally, it is very difficult. You go through some of the early withdrawal — whether it’s denial, whether it’s anger, whether it’s all kinds of things. I hadn’t reached the point yet where I had really stepped back and looked at the whole thing. It was still very emotional. As in everything in life, when you have a separation or a kind of loss, it affects you differently at different times. It takes a while to gain an objective perspective. I am glad that we resolved it. That’s all I can tell you. But I am mostly deeply impressed by the fans’ reactions. That’s really important.

DD: Have you had any reactions from the cast about your reinstatement?

EB: Melody (Thomas Scott) has been very supportive throughout all of this. And so has Sharon Case. So I’m grateful to expressions of support, you bet.

DD: Do you know yet how Victor will be written back in?

EB: I honestly don’t know that yet, but I trust Maria Bell. I always have. I think she is very good. She’ll find a very good way to reintroduce him.

DD: So we should all just keep watching, because Victor WILL be back.

EB: With a bang. He’s gonna come back and wreak some havoc.

DD: We hope so!

Days: Such a Tease!


•Sami overhears Nicole comforting Mia.

•Arianna fears that she has lost Brady for good.

•EJ is taken in by Arianna’s spunk and sensitivity.

•Philip tells Melanie that she should not wait to figure out what she wants.

•Hope (Kristian Alfonso, pictured) probes Victor about Bo and Carly’s history.

Thursday – The Feds arrest Carly as she tries to leave the house.

Friday – Sydney and Chad give blood for a DNA test to determine if Chad is Sydney’s father.

B&B: Such a Tease!

•Jackie makes an outrageous suggestion to Owen.

•A major wedge is driven between the Logan family.

•Justin flashes back to his high school years with Donna.

•Bill (Don Diamont, pictured) gives Ridge an assignment.

•Brooke makes a tempting offer to Bill.

ATWT: Such a Tease!

•Katie rushes to introduce Brad (Austin Peck, pictured) to their son.
•Jack has a hard time returning to work.

•Dusty finds trouble when he tries to teach Ralph a lesson.

•Lily continues to play into Damian's plan.

Y&R: Such a Tease!

•Adam makes a confession to Sharon (Sharon Case, pictured).
•Billy uses his newfound power to take revenge on Victor.

•Jana finds a clue from Ryder's past that may lead her to uncovering the truth.

•J.T. angrily attacks Deacon but will his impulsive act damage Victoria's reputation?

Monday, October 26, 2009

DEVLOPING NEWS! Eric Braeden and Y&R Producers Come to Agreement

DEVELOPING NEWS: It seems that Eric Braeden and the producers at The Young and the Restless have come to an agreement, and Eric has inked a new three-year deal. I'm going to be speaking with him later today and will give you the full scoop as soon as I get it.

UPDATE: It's official!! According to Entertainment Weekly, talks have dissolved and Eric Braeden is officially OUT as Victor Newman. What are your thoughts? What will this mean for the future of
The Young and the Restless?

The news hit the fan late last week. The headlines were blaring: ERIC BRAEDEN TO LEAVE THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS (mostly true); ERIC BRAEDEN STORMS OFF THE Y&R SET (not true).

I spoke with Eric yesterday to clear up rumors from truth, and to get the word straight from the horse's mouth. I asked him to tell me, step-by-step, what happened, so there would be no confusion or cause for speculation. The following is what Eric had to tell me:

On what actually happened: To put it succinctly, I signed a contract two years ago in which I volunteered a reduction in pay, in order to lead by example. That contract was supposed to be for three years — it would be up in November 2010. They suddenly invoked a clause that most of us don’t even read in the contract — the 26-week clause — which allows the producers to revisit the contact every half-year within that three-year period. That had never been invoked before, in my case. I was not really aware of it — obviously, I should have been.

On how he was approached regarding the pay cut: We are all aware of economic times being tougher, but the way it was done: The Internet was used in order to threaten me with the possibility of casting someone who would be equally as powerful, and the story line dovetailed with the end of this contract cycle that I had never thought of. In other words, one was blindsided in a way I do not appreciate at all, especially after having loyally publicized this show and pushed this show for 30 years, being proud of it and proud of the character. To be dealt with in this kind of manner does not sit well.

It is the worst of corporate America, to be honest with you. Corporate America and all those Harvard Business School graduates who sit in the upper levels, they have to know how to deal with human beings. You do not simply, in a wholesale manner, destroy something that obviously has been No. 1, in this case, for 27 years. That is extraordinary. That is singular in Hollywood’s history. You handle that kind of thing very carefully.

There are certain actors you approach on a certain level, as far as I’m concerned. You don’t approach them in a standard, procedural way. There are certain actors who have contributed more to a show that other people have, simple as it is. To claim otherwise is hypocrisy. What corporate America needs to learn is when they simply apply the paradigms learned by Harvard Business School graduates and Wharton School of Economic graduates and Stanford Business School graduates, you need to learn how to deal with human beings.

The personal touch is always more important than anything. Obviously they are endangering the goose that lays the golden egg. I am not talking only about myself; I am talking about others on the show as well.

To be quite frank with you, this notion of signing the three-year deal, and then suddenly have the producing side be able to revisit that after three months but I don’t, there seems to be something grossly unfair about that. But that is a problem our union should not have allowed to exist.

It certainly should not apply to someone who has been on the show for more than 10 years. If you don’t know by now if someone is contributing to the show or not, then you don’t deserve to be in the business.

The 26-week clause was initially thought of because say you hired an actor and you find out well, it hasn’t really worked out, you can terminate him quickly. But, I beg your pardon, after 29 or 30 years on the show, you don’t know who’s who? Give me a break!

On rumors that he stormed off the set: I had 62 pages myself that last day, and only as an actor do you know what that means. Sixty-two pages of the script I did that last day — emotionally exhausting with flashbacks and everything else, and Victor’s life sort of rolls by him. It just suddenly hit me: This has been a part of my life for 30 years.

At the end of [filming], I sat there quietly. The booms were still rolling and the cameras were still rolling, and I said: “I want to thank all of you, crew and cast, for a wonderful time on the show. You have all worked extremely hard; I have nothing but respect for all of you. I may not see you for a long time, or perhaps never again.”

It was a very emotional, very quiet moment, there was not much said, except the crew and cast, with tears in their eyes, we all hugged each other and nothing else was said. So, the storming off is simply not true. I did not storm off that set; it was not that emotion. It was a very quiet, very sad moment.

On the possibility of working something out: It is not entirely fait accompli yet, but it is hanging by a thread. There is a minimal chance [of working this out]. It entirely depends on how one is being approached. The world I come from, a handshake is a handshake and a contract is a contract. Period.

On his counteroffer: They had approached me the year before about a slash-and-burn reduction, which I took. [This time] I came back with a counteroffer, offered a fairer reduction, and that was dismissed.

It is not that one is asking for special favors; it is not that. After that many years of helping take that show to where it is — and I say “helping” because it is about our wonderful actors, everyone has helped. But to be dealt with in such a cold manner is something that just doesn’t sit well with me. I like to shake your hand, look you in the eye and deal with you. I don’t like to be dealt with by e-mail. I want to be dealt with in an honorable way, between men. Look oneself in the eye and say, “OK, let’s talk about this.” Not through some corporate bullsh*t.

After 30 years, you need to be taken to a restaurant, together with the people involved, and you all sit down and say, “OK, how can we work this out?” That’s what needs to happen. You don’t want to be treated like a number.

On the support of his fans: I am very touched by the reaction of the public. The fans have been very supportive and I’ve been very blessed by it.

Hollywood is a tough business. But what business right now isn’t tough?

On his feelings for Y&R, in general: I am enormously proud of the show and of the character I play, and have been enormously supportive all those years. I am very proud of the actors I work with and the kind of work we do given those very limiting circumstances. Many of the actors on the show are wonderful, and many of the story lines are wonderful — I’ve loved Maria Bell’s story lines, by and large, a lot.

But the days of Bill Bell, when he ran that show all by himself, those are over. Now you don’t even know who you are dealing with.