Friday, May 07, 2010

Interview (ATWT): Eileen Fulton Remembers Helen Wagner

The soap world lost an icon on Saturday, May 1. Helen Wagner (pictured, left) — who originated the role of Nancy Hughes on “As the World Turns” in 1956, and even spoke the venerable soap’s first lines — passed away at the age of 91. Her last on-screen appearance was in April for the remarriage of Bob and Kim, as well as the much-lauded return of Julianne Moore to her old stomping grounds in Oakdale.

I caught up recently with Eileen Fulton (pictured, below), who has played Lisa on “ATWT” since 1960, and was a lifelong friend and cast mate of Helen Wagner. Eileen, like many of us, was shellshocked when she heard the news that Helen had passed: “I am just reeling from it.

“I was shocked when I heard the news. She was just on the show a few weeks ago, looking so good and being so sharp and with it.”

Back in the early days of the show, Helen and Eileen shared a dressing room. “Needless to say, it was close quarters. But we liked each other a lot. I had the greatest respect for her. I have never seen anyone in my life who, as the years went on, got more beautiful. She was just amazing to me. I would just stare at her, because her hair was so gorgeous, and just her way was so beautiful. And I have to say, without exception, she had the greatest legs in daytime television.”

Much like her alter ego, Helen had a nurturing air about her. Eileen tells me: “I learned a lot about cooking from her. We used to share recipes. She had a great stew recipe. We shared so much. To see her bring her handwork to the studio — her needlepoint — was so wonderful. She did needlepoint for all of the chairs in her dining room; she did that in character as Nancy.

“The things she did in real life, she put to work in the show. Like her cooking — when fans would send her aprons, she would wear them on the show.”

Eileen laughs to remember a little-known fact about Helen: “She and her husband, Bob, were big football fans. She would get into the biggest arguments with Don McLaughlin and Don Hastings and the other men on the show, and they would have these rip-roaring arguments about what players should do what, and so on. She could certainly stand up to anybody; she knew football.”

What Eileen will remember most about Helen is what fans also loved about her, and about Nancy as well. “I’ll remember her smile, her hair, her kindness to people — and she was really sharp. That was Helen. She was always supportive of people on the show. She was always gracious.”

While Eileen found it hard to encapsulate 50 years of friendship, she is grateful for all the memories she’ll take away. “I’ve had some wonderful scenes with Helen. I think one of the best scenes we had together was when poor Eduardo was killed and Lisa was moping about; she came over and brought a mop and some stuff to clean the blood off the floor. ‘You have to get on with it,’ was her attitude. That was Helen as well. Get over it.”

It will be a while before fans get over the death of “ATWT’s” matriarch, and it will be even tougher for the cast mates she has left behind. “My one regret is that she didn’t hang on a little bit longer to wrap the show up (when it ends in September). That’s the thing that keeps haunting me. As you know, she spoke the first words on ‘ATWT.’ We were all hoping she’d have the last words, too.”

Interview (GH): Dante and Lulu — Finally

Like most soap couples, Dante Falconeri and Lulu Spencer have been through hell and high water together. Unlike many couples, they had yet to consummate their relationship — until this week, that is. After months of waiting — for Dante and Lulu, and not to mention, “General Hospital” fans — we get to see, as Julie Marie Berman describes it, “fireworks.” But, as always, we have a rigamarole of other Port Charles obstacles in the way of long-lived happiness.

Daytime Dial: Lulu has been very supportive of Dante and all the stuff he’s been going through with Sonny. How does she feel about Dante being Sonny’s son?

Julie Marie Berman: I don’t think it would matter that he is Sonny’s kid, except for the fact that Sonny shot him knowing that he was a good person and that he had saved his life, and he had saved Morgan’s life and he had saved Lulu’s life — the fact that Sonny didn’t have enough respect for Dante as a person when he shot him, regardless of the fact that Dante is his son. I think Lulu lost a lot of respect for Sonny, and she doesn’t like Sonny as a person. I think it would take a long, long time before she’ll ever come around to ever having any sort of respect for Sonny again.

DD: Lulu has a way of being able to see both sides of pretty much any situation, what with Luke being her father. Do you think that helps her with the Dante/Sonny situation?

JMB: I think it makes things a little more confusing. I don’t think she ever tries to say that one way is right and one way in wrong, or whether the law is 100 percent right or not. I think for most of her life, she hasn’t trusted the law, and for the first time being involved with someone who enforces the law, I think she is trying to live her life and let the system do the right thing. Obviously, being in Port Charles, the law never really is enforced when it comes to Sonny. I think we’ll see what happens with Lulu’s point of view then if Sonny still never has to pay for what he does.

DD: Lulu is also very loyal, especially to those she loves. What are some other Lulu traits that you admire and that you can relate to?

JMB: At the end of the day, she’s always trying to do the right thing. I don’t think she always succeeds. I don’t think it’s really possible to succeed; she’s not perfect. She’s always trying to see the bigger picture. She sticks up for what she believes is the right thing, and I think that’s really admirable. She’s not a pushover. She learns from her mistakes, and I find that really interesting and admirable — it’s good for the progression of the character.

DD: That’s not a quality you see on daytime nowadays: people actually learning from their mistakes!

JMB: Absolutely, and if Lulu’s around for another 20 years, I might not be able to say that anymore, but, in this case, she has definitely never made the same mistake twice.

DD: Dante and Lulu finally consummate their relationship — they’ve certainly been waiting a long time, especially by soap-opera standards.

JMB: It’s definitely worth the wait. These characters are wonderful together, and I think they have a great chemistry that’s always passionate and exciting to watch.

DD: How is Dominic Zamprogna to work with?

JMB: I’ve always said that I like working with people who love what they do. Dominic constantly wants to make things better and challenge himself, and I totally thrive in that kind of environment where people want to make things great. We come together mutually in that respect, and we have a ridiculous amount of fun working together. It’s very easy when you both have that drive to make things great and you actually like the actors that you’re with. It’s the perfect combination.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Marnie Schulenburg Appearance in Delaware

Marnie Schulenburg (Alison Snyder on ATWT) will appear at the 90th Annual Wilmington Flower Market on Saturday, May 8. On behalf of 93.7 WSTW and 1150am WDEL, Marnie will serve as a celebrity judge for a vocal a capella competition, as well as participate in a meet and greet with fans. The charity event benefits several children's charities throughout Delaware and the Delaware Valley.

Interview (OLTL): Crystal Hunt on Her Future, Part Two

Daytime Emmy-nominated actress Crystal Hunt (left, photo by Alex Kroke) recently left her role of Stacy Morasco on “One Life to Live,” but she hasn’t dipped below our radar. As a woman who always has something in the works, she’s got plenty to keep herself busy. When I caught up with her recently, she was thrilled to take me on a trip down memory lane, as well as keep me up-to-date on her future plans.

Daytime Dial: You received your first Daytime Emmy nomination as Lizzie on “Guiding Light.” Take me through the day of the Emmy ceremony.

Crystal Hunt: That day was crazy. I can’t imagine a wedding day being more nerve-wracking or crazy. You not only spend all day getting ready because you want to look perfect, but you’re going to a televised awards show, so you don’t want your stomach to stick out, but you don’t know how you should eat, or what you’re supposed to eat. Will I get sick if I eat because I am so nervous?

When you get to the ceremony, you are walking down one of the longest red carpets you will ever walk on. You stop at every single journalist to interview with them, answering a lot of the same questions over and over again. By the time the show starts, the last thing you want to hear is your category being announced, because you are so nervous.

There is that moment when they are reading your category, calling out the nominees, and there’s the camera right there in your face, waiting to see how you react, whether or not you win. That is the most stressful moment in your life. You feel your face getting hot, and you feel like a train is crashing into your chest. When they say someone else’s name as the winner, secretly you are relieved because you don’t have to go up onto the stage and take the chance of flubbing up a speech, but yet because you did want to win, you are hoping your face doesn’t look too disappointed for the person who did win.

DD: Tell me about some of the charities you are involved in.

CH: Recently I’ve been doing a lot for the breast cancer charities. I did the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and I am getting ready to do the Revlon Walk. My mother survived breast cancer last year. It is incredible to be there walking next to my mother, and seeing all these people walking with these signs on their backs, these 5-year-old kids walking with their dads and wearing a sign that says “In Memory of Mommy.” There are a ton of “In Memory of” signs.

As you’re walking, you’re trying to hold back tears as you read people’s backs. I walked with some of my cast members from “GL” and from “OLTL,” and we were so proud to be walking with my mom, with our signs that said “In Honor Of” my mother. It was such a cool feeling.

DD: Do you get a lot of your co-stars to support your charities?

CH: Oh, I always rope people in. Especially for the Susan G. Komen Walk. Tom Pelphrey and Bree Williamson came with me and decided to run instead of walk, and they were waiting for us at the finish – they left us in the dust.

DD: What do have planned next for your fans, who are eager to see you onscreen again?

CH: Stay tuned. I am working on some stuff. I have a film coming out this year that I did a while ago called “Brooklyn to Manhattan.” It’s a suspense-thriller.

Sean Young to Appear on Y&R

Actress Sean Young (Blade Runner, Dune) will be appearing The Young and the Restless in a brief story arc that will tape in May to air in mid-June.

Sean will be playing Meggie, a sexy, tough-as-nails barmaid who is involved in a mystery with business tycoon Victor Newman (Eric Braeden). In 2007, Sean co-starred with Eric in the film, The Man Who Came Back.

This role will mark her first foray on a daytime drama.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Helen Wagner ATWT' Matriarch, Dies at 91

(from CBS news)

Actress Helen Wagner, who played mild-mannered Nancy Hughes on the CBS soap opera "As the World Turns" for more than a half-century and spoke its first words, has died at age 91.

She died Saturday, said the show's New York-based production company, TeleNext Media Inc., which didn't say where she died or what was the cause of her death.

Wagner opened "As the World Turns" when it premiered on April 2, 1956, with the words: "Good morning, dear." She held the Guinness World Record for playing the same role on television for the longest amount of time, 54 years, TeleNext Media said.

"All of us at 'As the World Turns' are deeply saddened by Helen's passing," executive producer Christopher Goutman said in a statement. "She is loved by generations of fans, and while we will miss her greatly Helen will always remain the heart and soul of 'As the World Turns."'

While Wagner, who was born in Lubbock, Texas, was seen less often in later decades, no other network television performer came close to her run playing a single character.

She was still part of the cast, though with a small presence, in December 2009, when CBS announced that "As the World Turns" was being canceled and its last episode would air in September 2010.

Her final appearance aired April 5, in an episode in which Julianne Moore, a series regular in the 1980s whose two half-sister characters played Wagner's granddaughters, returned for a guest walk-on. The episode was taped in March.