Thursday, December 06, 2012

Interview: Catching Up with Mark Deklin

Mark Deklin, photo by Angelo Kritikos
Since ABC — unfairly, in my opinion, as my readers are aware — canceled “GCB,” I’ve been waiting to see its stars in other shows and movies. One of the series’ stars, Mark Deklin, can be seen next in an episode of “Castle” (to be shown this winter), as well as next year’s feature film “Tarzan” (which also stars Kellan Lutz, of “The Twilight Saga”). When I spoke with the always-charming and always-interesting actor recently, he told me all about his upcoming projects, starting with his guest stint on “Castle.”

Daytime Dial: Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about your episode of “Castle”?

Mark Deklin: You’re absolutely going to hate me, because there’s so very little I can tell you. I feel like almost anything I tell you has the potential to be a spoiler, which tells you that it’s an interesting episode and an interesting character, but I’m afraid of tipping my hand.

DD: I know exactly what you mean, because “Castle” always has you wondering throughout the entire episode, sending you down some wrong paths, before they finally solve the case.

MD: One of the things I like about “Castle” — one of the things I think that makes it smart — is that they don’t throw in a red herring. I’ve been on crime shows before, and I always play the guy where it’s like: “Oh, he’s the jerk. I bet he’s the murderer.” Everybody always sees through that, because it’s so formulaic. The thing I like about “Castle” is that it’s not like that. The twists and turns could take you anywhere. The guy I play could be a good guy or a bad guy or just caught in the middle — there’s no way to know. And I can’t say a whole lot more than that.

DD: You’ve gotta give me a little something.

MD: We first meet him when his girlfriend is found dead. And he’s not a suspect necessarily, he’s just one of the people they are interviewing. This is clearly a guy who’s very saddened by her death. And then, of course, we meet him again later on in the episode …

DD: How was it working with Nathan Fillion?

MD: He’s a funny guy. He’s such a classic Canadian boy. And I mean that in all the best ways. You know, just so nice and personable and welcoming and down to earth — just a cool guy.

DD: How was the rest of the cast and crew to work with? Does the set have a nice working atmosphere?

MD: Everyone was just lovely. I’ve been in this business long enough, and I see how when you go on a different set, there can be good energy or bad energy. And I do sort of think it comes from the top down. I’ve been on sets where you just feel the ickiness in the air. Nobody’s horrible to you, but you can just feel that it’s not a nice place to work. That’s definitely not the case on “Castle.” I was getting texts from various people (who’d worked on the show) saying: “You’re going to love it. It’s such a great set.”

From the minute I walked on set, I felt welcomed. It’s very professional and well run. It all starts with Nathan and Stana (Katic, who plays Det. Kate Beckett), who are both just really chill and cool and laid-back. I had a lot of fun working with them. I worked with Jon (Huertas, Det. Esposito) and Seamus (Dever, Det. Ryan) as well — I actually knew them beforehand — and they were great.

You can tell it’s just a group of people who made a conscious decision to create a nontoxic work environment. It’s really nice when that happens. That was one of the things I really miss about “GCB,” because it was one of those environments. We all loved each other, and I loved going to work every day. And you don’t always have that working in television, so when you find it, you really remember those sets the most.

DD: I know it’s what sets up the whole story of “Tarzan,” but I am bummed that your character has to die in the beginning.

MD: It’s funny that that’s technically a spoiler, which cracks me up, because now everybody goes into the movie knowing that I die. But that’s the story — if the kid isn’t orphaned, then he can’t grow up to be Tarzan. So by definition, to make him an orphan, Mom and Dad have to get offed.

DD: What can you tell me about John Greystoke and his wife? What do we get to learn about them before you get offed?

MD: Jaime Ray Newman played my wife, Alice, and she’s great. Our characters kick off the movie. We get a little more action, a little more screen time than the parents in Disney’s “Tarzan” got. You actually get to see us interacting and figuring our stuff out. But it’s not the Victorian “Tarzan” that we all grew up with. It’s a modern take on it. My character is almost like a Richard Branson type — a wealthy but well-intentioned adventurer and entrepreneur. He discovers that there’s a serious energy source — sort of meteorite, which crashed in Africa — and he wants to find it. He brings his family with him, which of course is a stupid decision, but I suppose in the moment it doesn’t seem stupid because he doesn’t go thinking he’s going to die. He just thinks that they are going to be going on a safari. He ends up unleashing a mystical force that he never could have anticipated, and everything kind of goes

DD: Was this a fun movie to shoot?

MD: Yeah, it was really fun. It was cool. It was all CGI work, and I’ve done a lot of that for video games. It was amazing to see how technology has progressed just within the last year or so. My favorite part was watching Peter Elliot, who is based in London. He’s a stunt man, choreographer and also he’s an ape researcher. He worked on “Gorillas in the Mist.” He’s a fascinating guy. It was his job to turn these actors and stunt men into gorillas; how to move and breathe and occupy this gorilla space, and it was pretty amazing. If you watch the making-of trailer, it is pretty fantastic how these guys embodied these great apes, and to hear him talk about these apes with such passion. He was just fascinating to work with.

And Reinhard Klooss — who directed it, from Constantine Films — was a really interesting cat too. It was cool. We shot in Munich — I had lived in Vienna for a little while, and one of my best friends lived in Munich at the same time, so I used to spend a lot of time in Munich. It’s a great city. I hadn’t been back in years, so it was really fun to be back there shooting and to brush up on my German, which is very rusty.

DD: Do you have a release date for “Tarzan” yet?

MD: I know it’s definitely 2013 in Europe. And I know that they want to get a 2013 U.S. release as well, but I don’t know.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Interview: Catching Up With Rachel Boston

Like many young, in-demand starlets, Rachel Boston has co-starred in her share of television series — in fact, too many to name. As a veteran of such nighttime dramas as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “American Dreams,” “ER,” “Scoundrels,” “In Plain Sight” and “7th Heaven,” Rachel’s latest endeavor is that of high-school-reunion-goer in the Lifetime original movie “Holiday High School Reunion,” which premieres this weekend.

I spoke with Rachel recently about “Reunion,” as well as the new pilot she is shooting for Lifetime (to air in spring 2013) called “Witches of East End,” where she’ll star alongside Julia Ormond and Jenna Dewan-Tatum. But first up, high-school reunions.

Daytime Dial: Tell me a little about the movie and your character, Georgia.

Rachel Boston: “Holiday High School Reunion” is a romantic comedy filled with Christmas music. I play Georgia Hunt, a woman in her 20s struggling to find her way through career and relationships. When Georgia returns home for Christmas, her mom encourages her to attend her high-school reunion, and through a series of events, she is asked to face her fears and find the courage to go after what she really wants for her life.

DD: When you first read the script, what was it about the movie, or Georgia, or both, that made you want to be a part of it?

RB: I read the script when I was on a road trip with my mom through the desert. The relationship between Georgia and her mother really inspired me. She wants her daughter to live her destiny but supports her as she falls down along the way. It was also wonderful to sing Christmas music all day long while filming in the middle of the summer.

DD: In what ways are you and Georgia similar to each other, and how are you different?

RB: Well, we are both looking for true love and have walked down many different paths to find it. Georgia is still holding on to the idea of a love she experienced when she was 17. You can’t start the next chapter in your life if you keep rereading the last one, and she is working through the process of letting go. I went to an all-girls school, so our high-school experiences were very different. I loved the scenes of cheering, food fights and dances.

DD: How were Marilu Henner and Harry Hamlin to work with?

RB: Marilu Henner plays my mom, and she is delightful in the film. There’s a scene after I’ve been out with the boys in the football field that really touched my heart. Harry Hamlin works at the high school with my mom, and we have some really funny scenes.

DD: How would you describe the filming experience? As the star of the movie, did you feel more pressure, or was it just such a nice experience that that all flew out the window and you just had fun?

RB: We had 16 days to shoot the entire film, including three musical numbers, so it was a very intense schedule, but an extraordinary experience. We had a very small crew of brilliant artists, and working with our director, Marita Grabiak, was beyond wonderful. She poured her heart into the film and brought so much truth to Georgia’s journey. It was a true collaboration, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it.

DD: After watching the movie, what do you hope viewers take away from it, like a central message, theme or feeling?

RB: My 94-year-old grandmother always tells me, “Just be yourself!” She is 94 and one of the most joy-filled and wisest people I know, so she has great advice, and it’s the central message of the movie. There will always be voices telling you to turn a different way, and it takes courage to stand in your center and stay true to your heart.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Interview — Michael Steger: Navid Explores His Dark Side

Michael Steger, photo by Benny Haddad
My favorite guilty pleasure is back: The fifth season of “90210” has started with a bang, and with shows like the first few episodes to go by, I think I can safely say that the gang is back on course (after an uneven and sometimes strange fourth season). Naomi and Max are married(!); Teddy and Silver are trying for a baby; Adrianna is in a love triangle; Liam is in Crazytown because of Vanessa; sparks are flying between Annie and a guy she met through Dixon’s rehab; and Navid, tired of being second choice and everyone’s punching bag, is showing his darker side. I spoke with Michael Steger — who’s played the once-nerdy, now-hunky Navid Shirazi since the show’s inception — and he gave me the scoop on the upcoming season. He also told me about the other projects he’s been working on.

Daytime Dial: First off, how was your summer vacation?

Michael Steger: Really good. At the beginning, I did a few small vacations. I went to Rosarito, Mexico, and Ensenada and then Chicago. And then I worked on two films in May and June, which was nice. It went by pretty quickly. And then I started back up on “90210” in July. So most of my summer I’ve been working.

DD: For those who might be living under a rock, I also want to point out that “90210” has switched to Monday nights at 8/7c on the CW. I know you are active on Twitter, so how has the fan reaction been for the new season?

MS: Very excited. I’ve been contacted by fans on Twitter: “When is the show starting? When is the show starting?” The energy is very contagious, and the fans have been really great about passing that info along.

DD: Looking back on the previous season, what have been some of your favorite moments?

MS: My favorite moments from season four is getting the chance to work with really cool character actors. I got to work with Anthony Azizi, who played my uncle Amal. And Shaun Duke, who plays my dad, and then of course all the cool recurring cast we have on the show, like Josh Zuckerman. There are so many really good actors coming on board the show. They represent the fresh energy that is so much a part of the show and is always my favorite part.

DD: How’s Navid doing this season?

MS: He starts the season in a bidding war with Liam for Silver, and now Silver has picked Teddy to have a baby with. It’s thrown Navid off-kilter a bit to where his character is tested, and he goes the route of a stranger, in a sense — he does something that’s really out of character.

He has an almost one-night stand, and he’s really not thinking. He’s trying to get back to Silver, so he’s doing as much as he can in that area. It’s completely out of character for him, but he is trying to get the attention with Silver at the end of the day.

DD: I saw some pictures of you and the rest of the guys online dressed as cheerleaders for a powder-puff football game. Was that fun to film?

MS: It’s funny, when you get a group of guys and you dress them up as cheerleaders, you have this feeling of, “OK, we’ve got to represent.” It ended up being a hilarious situation because we were all just making fun of ourselves the entire day. It was really funny. And of course, at the end of the day, we’re all like, “Oh did you guys see the paparazzi over yonder?” We were caught off-guard, but we still had a really good time.

DD: Tell me about Dixon’s recovery from the car accident.

MS: It’s going to take a while. His recovery process is a long one. The execs handled it in a very organic way and very believable. I thought they handled it very nicely.

DD: Can you give me any spoilers for down the road?

MS: I’m really not sure what will happen. Everything’s a surprise. I don’t like to know too much, you know? I just wait until I get the script to be surprised. We’ll find out!

DD: Tell me about the films you’ve been working on.

MS: They’re both in post-production. “Farah Goes Bang” is about three women who are coming into their own. They’re on a road trip to work on the John Kerry campaign during the 2004 Bush/Kerry election. It’s a very great story about these women coming into their womanhood. One is trying to lose her virginity, and they have all of the obstacles along the way. It’s a touching story of that time. I think people are going to enjoy it.

And the other one is “Blowing Vegas Off the Map,” which is a movie for the Syfy network. It has to do with an Egyptian curse, and Las Vegas is being decimated by a horrible storm. I think if you’re into sci-fi, you might enjoy it, but I haven’t seen any cuts, so I have no idea. But I’m sure it’ll be good, explosive fun.

Friday, October 19, 2012

INTERVIEW: Kellie Martin Enters New Territory

Kellie Martin as Capt. Nicole Galassin
(Photo courtesy Lifetime Television/
Army Wives)
Hot on the heels of the news that Lifetime Television has renewed the groundbreaking series “Army Wives” for a seventh season, I spoke with series co-star Kellie Martin, who played a pivotal and game-changing role this season. Kellie plays Capt. Nicole Galassin, and although we last saw Capt. Galassin flying to Afghanistan and hitting some bad turbulence, I wouldn’t count her out just yet. And neither would Kellie.

Daytime Dial: Your role on “Army Wives” is definitely one your fans haven’t seen you play yet. How did the whole thing come about?

Kellie Martin: A friend of mine, a writer friend from “ER,” called me up and said: “Would you be open to playing a lesbian military intelligence officer? We’re going to explore the world after Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And I thought: “Yeah! That sounds really interesting.” I have never played anyone in the military; I’ve never played a lesbian. That’s rare for me to say, since I’ve been doing this 30 years — I’ve played everything. But that is something I’ve never played.

I didn’t know that it was going to be as much of a story line as it turned out to be. I did eight episodes. I really feel like they hit the highlights of this woman’s life and how fast this couple’s world changed after the repeal. The way all of a sudden they were able to have more friends, they got married, they got a baby — it really hit all the high points.

DD: You sound like you really enjoyed playing this character.

KM: Oh yes, I was honored to play this woman. I thought she was so brave and so smart, yet in her personal life, she had to hide. It was really fun to play someone who comes out. And then to have Patti LuPone play my mom again was awesome. That’s the third time Patti’s played my mom on television. And it was just an honor.

I have so many people who tweet at me or who just come up to me and say, “You don’t know how this story line has changed my life.” Or, “This is me. This is exactly me. And I’ve been in the closet for years, and I’m in the Navy.” It’s nice to make people feel like they are not alone in this often-challenging world. I feel like Capt. Galassin is the girl next door. Everybody knows someone like her. I’m just very proud of “Army Wives” and Lifetime for following through with the story line like they did.

DD: Like with “ER,” you came onto an established show with established actors in place; did it make you a little nervous? How is the “Army Wives” cast to work with?

KM: It’s funny, because they’re both pretty big ensembles. I found on “ER” and on “Army Wives,” if you weren’t a part of someone else’s story line, you never saw them. The cast was very welcoming, and I was super nervous the first day. I had a ton of things to say. I had to put that uniform on for the first time, and I just fell into the character the second I put it on. So, that was a really big help to me. But the cast is lovely. I had a really, really good time. It wasn’t easy for me to be away on location so much. I was flying way more than I care to mention, because I don’t like to fly, but it was a really good experience.

DD: Do you think Nicole will be back for the seventh season?

KM: I don’t know if Nicole’s back. She was on a plane to Afghanistan at the end of the season, and there was a lot of turbulence …

DD: Yes, but turbulence can go away, and planes can go back the other way, too …

KM: Absolutely! I had a great time, and I never, ever know where my career’s going to head, so it’s always interesting for me to see what happens.

Kellie as Jordan
(Photo: Copyright 2011 Crown Media Holdings, Inc./
Photographer: Alexx Henry)
DD: You are in the new Hallmark Channel original movie called “I Married Who?” playing an uptight real estate agent, Jordan Grady, who goes to Las Vegas for her bachelorette party and wakes up after a night of celebrating to find she’s married to movie star Matt Swift (played by Ethan Erickson). Let’s just say that romantic comedy ensues. (“I Married Who?” premieres on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 9/8c.) You’ve done quite a few movies for the Hallmark Channel; what keeps you coming back?

KM: I’ve been working with them since 2003 or 2004, and I’ve really just gotten to love the people over there. I knew the CEO when he wasn’t the CEO, and all the publicity people who’ve been there since I started working with them. It’s really the people who keep me coming back. They just are very good to me, and they let me have a bit of input into the work we do, which I really appreciate.

I really have liked doing romantic comedies — the past two movies that I’ve done for them have been really fun, upbeat and, best of all, I don’t have to cry. I love that, because I’ve spent so much time doing drama that this is a really nice way to lighten things up for me.

DD: What was it about this particular movie, especially the character of Jordan, that caught your attention?

KM: I love the arc she goes through. Jordan starts out as a very tightly wound real estate agent about to get married to a very tightly wound attorney. She has to face who she really is beyond being type A and totally under control. She unravels a bit, and it was really fun to play a character who was unraveling.

DD: How are you and Jordan alike?

KM: Well, unlike Jordan I like to drink. Jordan doesn’t drink. I’m Irish, and I do enjoy a good drink. I did marry an attorney, but unlike Peter (in the movie), my husband is a recovering attorney. Eight months after our daughter was born, he said: “You know what? I don’t think I want to do this anymore. I don’t really like this.” I do like to be in control. I like to know what’s going on. I like routines, especially having a child. I love the ritual, routine nature of a day, because my daughter has a very strict schedule. We have a very rigid schedule, and that’s very much like Jordan.

DD: You had great chemistry with your co-stars, but I especially loved your scenes with Adrienne Frantz. Her character is hilarious, and she did such a great job!

KM: Can you tell we had fun? She’s so much fun.

L to R: Daphnee Duplaix, Adrienne Frantz and Kellie Martin (Photo: Copyright 2011 Crown Media
Holdings, Inc./Photographer: Alexx Henry)
DD: How did you get through takes without laughing through them?

KM: I frequently didn’t. There’s one scene I could see how they had to cut around our giggling. When we’re eating pizza, and Adrianne and I are hysterically laughing, and they had to find the little moments where we weren’t laughing because we were total goofballs. But it’s so nice to work with someone like her because she is a pro. She’s so much a pro that she can let loose, and you can allow for those little surprises to happen. It’s just lovely to be in a scene with someone who’s so good at what they do that we know we are going to say our lines and hit our marks, but we’re going to have fun and allow surprises to happen. And that’s what we did. I would love to do a series with that girl. We would have so much fun.

DD: What do you hope viewers take away from the movie after watching it?

KM: I really think it’s good to shake up your life every once in a while. I’m not saying to marry someone who’s not your fiance, but I think it’s good to step back every once in a while and get perspective on your life. Maybe step back and say: “You know what? Let’s do something crazy. Let’s go to Paris next summer,” or “Let’s take off school today and go to the park.

Just shake up your life every once in a while and realize you only live once.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interview: Trisha Goddard, Ready for the Challenge

Trisha Goddard is a (mostly) new voice entering the daytime-television arena; although she has served as a guest host and conflict-resolution expert for “The Maury Povich Show,” beginning today, Trisha has a show all her own. While hosting her own show isn’t a new thing for her — she’s hosted and won awards for several talk shows in Australia and the U.K. — for American audiences, it will be a new thing for us. I had the pleasure of speaking with this quick-witted, humble and lovely lady about her new show (which airs in syndication, so check your local listings), and she can’t wait for you to welcome her into your living room each weekday.

Celebrity Extra: For those not familiar with your work, how did you get started in the business?

Trisha Goddard: Well, I actually started in news and current events. I’ve done a lot of other jobs, too — I was in a band; I was an air stewardess based in the Middle East; I worked in public relations. But as I worked other jobs, I took journalism courses, and I started in television in Australia. I started in news and current affairs, and quickly realized that health and social welfare areas — which were kind of new in those days — were where I wanted to be.

My first presenting job came about when the presenter of a show I reported for went on maternity leave, and they asked me to fill in. Apparently the viewers took to me, so I was offered my own show by another network. The press was very quick to point out that I was Australia’s first person of color ever to become an anchorwoman, which shocked me. I said, “Oh, it didn’t say that on the form when I was applying for the job.” But that was back in 1987.

CE: I know you also had your own talk shows in England, and then you came to the U.S. and started working with Maury Povich. What was that experience like?

TG: It was great. It was a really easy fit. Maury was very gracious. It was very lovely of him to have me on the show and hand over segments. That’s what I’ve been doing on and off for the past two years. Time flies when you’re having fun.

CE: And now you have your own daytime talk show, “Trisha Goddard.” Tell me about it.

TG: The topics will cover all of life’s dramas — happy, sad, humor — the whole gamut of relationships. It can be parent and child, relatives, what have you. What we did on my show in England was there are a lot of older people who want to know, as an adult: “Is this my sister; is this my cousin?” or “Is this really my parent?” Obviously, there’s a lot invested in that, if you’ve been brought up one way or to believe that somebody was your parent and isn’t. They’re more complex. A lot of these stories have layer upon layer, but they are the universal issues that everyone has: trust, betrayal, happiness, joy and identity. I’ll deal with all of those things, but in my very own way.

CE: Will you host celebrity guests, too?

TG: Yes, absolutely. A celebrity will be there for what they’re going through and what experience they can bring to the show rather than “I have a new book” or “I have a new movie” to promote for the celebrity’s sake. These celebrities will absolutely hold their own, and be willing to be honest and talk about whatever issue it is they went through that they have in common with the guest. It catches on with the celebrities who are interested in being real. We give them the opportunity to talk about something other than their new movie or their new book or what have you. But the focus of our show is on ordinary, everyday people.

CE: Since “Trisha Goddard” is a five-days-a-week show, covering most of the year, do you ever worry you’ll run out of topics to discuss?

TG: Oh no, no. That’s never a worry. You could do a show on divorce 300 times, and every single situation will be different. The ages, the people, different situations — you can never exhaust a subject, because there are different nuances in every single case. You never think, “Oh, I’ve done this story before.” You might have up until a point, and then it goes off on a completely different track.

CE: That’s true; you just read any newspaper, magazine or website, and there are human-interest stories galore out there.

TG: Oh, yes. And I read the newspapers all the time. Back home in England, I probably read four newspapers a day. Here I’m reading the websites and what have you. I’m always looking for ideas; I’m going to start getting local newspapers in different areas, because you start asking, what are the concerns on the ground? I want to get a feel for the issues at the local level and how I can bring that to the screen. It’s always exciting. There’s always a challenge.

CE: I know you are very involved in mental well-being issues and treatment — will you bring those topics to your show?

TG: Oh, yes. Collectively, mental health, mental well-being and mental illness is the entire spectrum. You’ll very rarely talk to people or about people without some part of that spectrum coming into it. It’s not always mental illness. It can be a lack of mental wellness, if you see what I mean. I can’t divorce myself from that; it’s what I’m passionate about. There are always people thinking that mad equals bad, and all those sorts of things. It’s one area that really needs to be de-stigmatized.

CE: I read that you’ve done your share of acting as well … I bet the “Doctor Who” fans are the most rabid.

TG: “Doctor Who” fans are very … everywhere I go, there’s some “Doctor Who” fan who jumps out and tells me exactly what episode I was in. That was fun. I did “Little Britain” as well, which is an English show. There was another show called “Fat Friends,” which was about a whole group of friends in a slimming club, and I filmed about three or four episodes with them. I was really, really flattered to be included. My one show that I’d like to be included in here in the U.S. — I will have died and gone to heaven if I did a cameo on “Modern Family.”

CE: How do you fit it all in: hosting your show here, your advocacy and charity work, maintaining a home here and across the Pond?

TG: When I was coming over to tape “Maury,” I would do the show and work intensely for a week, and then go home and do unpaid work as a mother, dog walker, wife, etc., so that was OK. At the moment people ask how it’s going to work out, and the answer is, I don’t know. It’ll be tough, but I don’t want to prescribe how things are going to work out, because part of life is just going with the flow and muddling through, and then when people ask you in hindsight, it sounds like you had this marvelous plan to make it all work. But it’s not like that. It’s interesting, but it’s scary.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Interview: Catching Up with Eric Mabius

Eric Mabius has put in his time on shows like “Party of Five,” “The O.C.” and “Popular,” moving on to co-starring roles on “Eyes” and “The L Word” before landing the role for which he is perhaps most famous (for now), that of playboy Daniel Meade on “Ugly Betty.” But now Eric wants to show his fans another side, that of the shy, slightly geeky Harold White in the Hallmark Channel original movie “How to Fall in Love,” which premieres Saturday night, July 21 at 9/8c. (Also, head to the Hallmark Channel’s Facebook fan page an hour earlier at 8/9c for a live, one-hour Q-and-A with Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, co-authors of “The Rules,” where they’ll give advice on dating and falling in love.)

When I spoke with Eric recently, he told me how much fun it was to play this against-type role and working with Brooke D’Orsay and Kathy Najimy. He also told me all about his new, the Sundance Film Festival hit “Price Check” with indie queen Parker Posey, as well as a few other projects.

Daytime Dial: I loved watching you as Harold — geeky, shy and not at all like Daniel Meade. Was playing a character like this one of the things that made you want to do this movie?

Eric Mabius: Definitely, that’s part of the reason why I said yes to the project. I am excited because people will be like, “Yeah, Daniel, the playboy from ‘Ugly Betty’ is going to play a geek.” But I think we all have our own inner geek, and it doesn’t take that much to bring it out.

I know we all may have seen a movie about the guy who’s geeky and needs direction in life, a sort of ugly duckling story. I felt like Bart Fisher had written something that was quirky enough and that I could spin it a little bit differently and still be real, just kind of drown it in reality. It may seem like an unlikely occurrence, Harold getting dating lessons from the woman who caused his dysfunction in the first place, but it’s entirely in the realm of possibility. I believe it especially because I fell in love with someone from high school, and I have two sons with her. It definitely was close to home for me. I didn’t date my wife in high school, but she was definitely by far the coolest woman there. She was definitely the most beautiful, but she also marched to the beat of her own drummer. I was in New Orleans 10 years after high school, and my friend played matchmaker with us, and that’s kind of how we got together.

DD: Do you have any awkward high-school stories to rival Harold’s homecoming dance experience?

EM: I don’t have very many of those stories because I moved around a lot. So I knew how to negotiate awkward situations because I had to learn how to adapt very early on. I chose the position of being more of a loner, and from that position it always kept people guessing, which had a certain amount of power. I was an athlete in high school as well, so I used to travel and compete and train with the Junior National Luge team, and I got to see the world. Also, I went to the prom with a friend of mine to avoid all of those potentially awkward moments. I had a little bit of foresight.

DD: I think this is a really good story to let people know that there is life after high school — much more — and what happens to you then isn’t the be-all, end-all of your life.

EM: I think that when you’ve only lived 17 years, you don’t have, you haven’t had a full canon of experiences, so every moment that you have here feels like the last moment in the world, because you’ve only had a handful of whatever those moments are. Your first love, your first dance, your first intensely awkward moments. And they’re supposed to be intense because it’s the first time we’re experiencing a lot of those things.

You do have to follow your heart, otherwise you’re living a false life. Maybe I’m naive or maybe I’m idealistic, but I fell in love with someone from high school, which is insane. If someone told me that I was going to marry someone from high school, I would tell him he needs to have his head checked. But you need to remain open to anything, because you never know where lightning’s going to strike, where you’re going to fall in love. You fall in love in the most unlikely times and places. People try to be very calculated about affairs of the heart, but it’s never going to work. You’ll end up with a sterile relationship, I’d think.

DD: I loved Brooke D’Orsay in “How to Fall in Love” — her character was just so adorable, and I loved your chemistry with her. How was she to work with?

EM: You’re correct — she’s absolutely adorable. So much fun and just so sweet. Oddly enough, as personality types, our own personalities as actors were the opposite of the characters we were playing. I think I’m a fairly calm, even person, and she’s slightly more neurotic, so as people we kind of balance each other out. It was fun because of the characters we were playing; we were kind of doing the opposite. When you’re thrown together in a situation like that to try to manufacture that attraction, you never know if it’s going to work. Fortunately, Brooke is just so sweet and gracious and honest, and that’s why I loved working with her. She doesn’t hide much, which makes it easy and a lot more fun to play.

DD: And Kathy Najimy was just wonderful, and so hilarious!

EM: She absolutely is, and I was so happy to see her again. She was so good on “Ugly Betty,” and she’s just like this ball of lightning. She’s got so much energy, and she’s always on — she’s another person who comes to play, and you’d better bring your A game. She’s a delight, and she’s just a quality woman.

DD: Tell me about your feature film that you did with Parker Posey, “Price Check.”

EM: Oh my god, you’re going to laugh your ass off. I think IFC bought the film. It’s a dark comedy centering on this guy I play (Pete Cozy), who gives up his dreams of being a music A&R guy. He moves to the suburbs of Long Island and accepts a marketing job at a small chain of grocery stores. He has a wife and a child, and is trying to pursue the “American Dream.” Parker Posey’s character, Susan, is put in charge of this section of grocery stores. Nobody in the office cares about his job. They’re basically just punching the clock and biding their time. Susan comes in and shakes everyone’s universe up. She is so quintessential Parker Posey. She is brilliant, and she’s so funny. It’s a lot of fun.

DD: You’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of strong female leads … Vanessa Williams from “Ugly Betty” comes to mind. And it’s so nice to know that in real life she is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever interviewed.

EM: I just saw Vanessa last week. She was being honored by the Covenant House for all of her charity work for them, and she invited us to her table. She just grows more beautiful and graceful with time. In the six or seven years I’ve known her, I have to say she is one of my favorite people in the world, and she is just one of the classiest women I know — next to, of course, my mother and my wife — but she’s just infinitely gracious and kind and giving. I don’t see that very often in any kind of business, but you certainly see it a lot less in entertainment — she’s a rare gem.

DD: What about the new USA series “Political Animals”?

EM: I’m really excited about it — excited about guest-starring on it. You have to keep an eye out for that show. Separate of me having to do anything with it, just the writing and acting in it alone is just out of this world. It stars Sigourney Weaver as the secretary of state, and it also has Ellen Burstyn and Carla Gugino. It’s just unreal. It’s a political drama, and another show for me with strong female role models. It’s just so good.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Interview: Genie Francis Discusses Future of Soaps

It’s a subject that’s on every daytime-soap fan’s mind but is afraid to bring up. It seems lately all you hear about are favorite stars being let go from soaps — Jack Wagner, Patrick Muldoon, Eileen Davidson, etc. — either in a cost-cutting move or story-line-related move, all in a fervent attempt to keep said soap from facing the chopping block come renewal time. I spoke with soap-opera veteran Genie Francis recently about this subject, and she gave me an enlightening look into what she thinks could save soaps and what the future for soaps might bring.

Daytime Dial: In recent years, we’ve lost “As the World Turns,” “Guiding Light,” “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” Do you think it’s possible to save the remaining shows from the chopping block?

Genie Francis: It’s hard to say whether we’ll be able to save those shows and for how long. Our audience has really dissipated, and I think that’s because people are moving much faster than they ever have before. Nobody sits down in the afternoon and watches television unless they’re retired or home ill. People just don’t have the time. It’s a shame to see it dwindle as much as it has. I think what it may come down to is each network maintaining one show.

DD: It’s almost come to that already, with ABC having only “General Hospital” and NBC with “Days of Our Lives.”

GF: Right. I was glad to hear about “GH” getting another year. I hope this will give the new creative team the time that they need to fix that show. It’s a really hard thing they are doing, and it’s not something that you can snap your fingers and make happen. My hope is that those people who are really good people — really smart producers and writers — will get the time that they need.

DD: Not to jinx anyone, but the only one I don’t worry about is “The Young and the Restless.”

GF: Yes, they’ve come up a little in the ratings a bit this past month. They’ve been No. 1 for more than 20 years — I think it’s 23 years — and there’s a reason for that: They have found their audience, they’ve been really loyal to that audience, and I think they also keep their stories moving very quickly. When you turn on the show, you will see something happen.

There’s awareness now in television writers’ mind-sets that people have a short attention span nowadays. We’re impatient. The writers have really changed the way they write to keep a story moving quickly. I watched it the other night — I had it taped — and I watched the whole episode, and then I turned on a nighttime cable show, and “Y and R” was every bit as compelling, watchable, moved as quickly, acted as well, written as well. I just have to say that I think that the people in charge over at “Y and R” are doing a really good job, and that’s what it’s going to take. People are going to have to work harder to try to maintain the audience they’ve got.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interview: Genie Francis Gets a Mother's Day Surprise!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Genie Francis and Ted McGinley are back as newlyweds Peyton MacGruder and King Danville in “Notes from the Heart Healer,” premiering Saturday, May 12 at 8/7c, on the Hallmark Channel (and re-airing throughout Mother’s Day weekend). The couple is celebrating their first anniversary when they are surprised by an abandoned baby on their doorstep.

(As an added Mother's Day tribute, Hallmark Channel’s Facebook page — — is inviting viewers to share heartfelt messages, notes and photos of moms who have healed a heart! Post your #HeartHealer tribute today and tell us Hallmark and why your mom was magical and how she healed your heart! #HallmarkChannelCountdown #HeartHealer)

I spoke with the “General Hospital” alum recently, and she told me all about making this third film in the “Notes” series and how much fun it was to step into Peyton’s shoes again.

Daytime Dial: Back in 2007, when you made “The Note” for the Hallmark Channel, did you have any idea what a hit it would be — ranking as one of the network’s highest-rated film series of all time — and that it would spawn two sequels?

Genie Francis: I had no idea. I knew it was a wonderful movie. I loved the script when I first read it. I was so thrilled to get that job. And then we were all shocked that it did as well as it did. It was like this huge, unexpected wonderful success, and then, of course, they continued it on into a franchise.

DD: What was the filming experience like this time? Was it easy to get back into the swing of it?

GF: We worked very fast. We shot the whole thing in 14 days. I was amazed that we were able to shoot the entire movie with one baby (instead of twins, as many productions use), which I didn’t think could be done. I’m always impressed how well cast these movies are. The level of talent, the talent pool they have in Canada (where the series is filmed) is just amazing, and it’s beautifully cast every single time. It’s a perfect Mother’s Day movie.

DD: One of the things I like about these movies is while each is a continuation of the previous one, they also can stand on their own as individual movies.

GF: I think that’s true of all three of them. You don’t have to have seen the others to enjoy any of them. They do stand alone yet somehow go in perfect line with the others. It’s a difficult thing to do. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but they did.

DD: How do you feel about the premise of Peyton and King celebrating their one-year anniversary, and then this baby is dropped into their laps and we see how they deal with it?

GF: I thought that was terrific because they are later on in life, and even though it’s a new marriage, she has things that she hasn’t done. She has unfinished parts of her life. They’re an older couple, so for her to say to him, “You know, I’ve got to do this,” it’s got to take him aback. What’s cool about it is that through this experience, Peyton learns that not only does she want to be a mother, but she starts to believe that she can be. She starts to forgive herself for who she was in her youth and realizes maybe she’s not so bad. His willingness to do it speaks of how much he loves her and how strong that marriage really is.

DD: I know forgiveness is a big theme of this movie; what are some other things you hope the viewer takes away from it?

GF: Well, what I love most about Peyton is that she gets involved and she brings everything up as sort of a philosophical or spiritual question like: “Why did I get this baby on my doorstep? I’ve got this baby, but I can’t stop thinking about the mother. Maybe if I can get to this mother, I can prevent her from ending up like me.” She always finds a way to make lemonade out of her lemons in life, from the bitterness in her life, and that’s a great quality. And she’s confused. She asks the big questions, like, “What’s best for this baby?” It’s a struggle for Peyton, but there’s been a healing for her in that she knows that she’s got it in her to be a good mother.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Interview: Catching Up with Virginia Williams

The USA Network's hit legal drama "Fairly Legal" is finally back tonight for its second season with 13 all-new episodes. The show centers on the law firm of Reed and Reed, which was founded by Kate Reed's (Sarah Shahi) father, and is now being run by her stepmother, Lauren Reed, after her father's death. Lauren is sharp, shrewd, hard as nails, and is pretty much the same age as Kate ... so, you can see where a lot of the conflict lies.

I spoke with Virginia Williams, who plays Lauren, and she is anxious and energized for fans to finally get to see the show's new season. With almost a full year between seasons one and two, you can bet viewers are more than ready for a new offering of "Fairly Legal," which airs Fridays on USA at 9 p.m. EST.

Celebrity Extra: With such a long hiatus between the seasons, you must be excited to finally be premiering season two!

Virginia Williams: Yeah — and it’s fun to see how excited the fans are getting. I think a lot of people forgot about the show, understandably. What’s great about this season is, as good as last season was, I think this season is going to be just exponentially better. It’s tighter, it’s funnier, it’s wittier, and it’s lighter. It’s just a better show all around.

CE: What can you tell me about season two?

VW: I’m trying to figure out how to phrase it without giving too much away. I think it’s pretty obvious for us to even have a season 2 that Kate has to come back to work at Reed and Reed. With the relationship between the girls, we get to see them come together a lot more. They don’t have such an antagonistic relationship, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to see eye to eye. They still are extremely different characters. They’re the odd couple. They’re always going to look at the world through really different lenses. I think one thing that was missing in season 1 that we get to see in season 2 is how much they both respect what the other one does. They both get that they are each great at their jobs, they just do their jobs completely differently.

Its fun to watch them come together and then grow apart, and come together and then grow apart, but they’re these two women who are essentially two sides of the same coin. They both love justice and in doing the right thing, they just look at it in different ways. Lauren’s lens is always true in the eyes of the law. She truly fights for what she believes in, and she believes that the law is king. Kate believes that since humans made up the laws and humans are flawed, she works to do what she feels is the right thing despite what the law says.

CE: The character of Lauren could easily have been pretty one-dimensional, but with your portrayal of her and with the benefit of an excellent writing staff, you've really brought out her different facets and dimensions.

VW: Thank you. I’ve worked very hard as an actress to bring dimensionality to her. She absolutely could be played extremely one dimensionally, and on paper she can look like a trophy wife who’s money-grubbing and in it for the wrong reasons. I do feel that season 1 sometimes wrote to that, but a lot of the time, it was my own personal struggle when trying to bring that. The writers have written to her facets more, which is really great. We get to see Lauren at home for example. Everything still revolves around Reed and Reed — the show is about the law firm — but we do see glimpses of Lauren at home: coming back from a jog, going on a date, having a resemblance of a life outside of work. We get to see her with her hair down, literally and figuratively. Those are things I’m really excited about, and this next season we get to see some of the little colors of her.

The most fun characters to play as an actor are the ones who hold their cards really close to the vest, and we only get to see little glimmers of their fears and insecurities. That is really what I love about her. I was really drawn to this character because I thought, “How fun would it be to constantly pile on the layers?” Which is what I find I do with her. I just constantly try to pile on the layers, and if two or three of them come through and the audience sees them, great! Then you’ve done your job well. But I wanted to play someone who is very guarded, and can only show little bits and pieces. I think it’s a really fun thing to play. She’s like a volcano always ready to explode. At least through season 1 that was kind of how I played it, with all the pressure that was on her.

Through season 2, she’s still quite guarded and protective and exacting and stylish and brilliant and all these great things that I love about her, but she’s a lot more comfortable with her position. This allows me some flexibility as an actress and how I play her, which I’m really happy for. I think last season was about Lauren proving to everyone else that she was capable and that she wasn’t just a trophy wife — she could get the job done and could lead the firm. This season we see that she not only is extremely capable, but the firm ends up being better off than it was even before Teddy died. She comes into her own a bit, and the confidence that comes with that allows her to loosen up just a little bit.

CE: You shoot the series in Vancouver — how do you like it up there?

VW: I love shooting there in the summer. We shot the first season through the summer, and Vancouver became one of my top-three favorite cities in the world. Absolutely love it. But (laughs), as a Southern girl, I’m not so fond of shooting there in the winter.

CE: What else does this season have in store for Lauren?

VW: We get to see Lauren moving on from the death of her husband, which is nice. As early as episode three we see Lauren going on a date, and by the end of the season, we have a bit of a cliffhanger story line — a love story line. This season Justin and Lauren get to work together a lot, which is really fun. And there’s definitely a love-triangle story line with Kate and Justin and Ben.

CE: I read that Meatloaf is a guest star this season. How great is that?

VW: Yes! Unfortunately I didn’t have any scenes with him, so I didn’t actually get to work with him. I’ve been singing "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" for well over a month. We have some really, really great guest stars this year: Mark Margolis and Betsy Brandt, who are on "Breaking Bad," will be on the show. I get a lot of really good stuff with Mark Margolis. He’s just outstanding and mortifying and scary as hell, which is great to work with. I know all of production has been very pleased with who we’ve had and what they’ve brought to the table. Its going to be a great season!

Interview: Catching Up with Courtney Thorne-Smith

Courtney Thorne-Smith is no stranger to comedy. While she may have had her big break starring as Allison Parker on nighttime soap “Melrose Place,” she really honed her acting chops on shows like “Ally McBeal” and “According to Jim.” For the past few years, she’s co-starred on the CBS hit comedy “Two and a Half Men,” playing Jon Cryer’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Lyndsey Mackelroy. I spoke with Courtney recently about being on a headline-making sitcom, and how the cast and crew are leading up to the show’s ninth season finale on May 14.

Celebrity Extra: You’ve been working pretty much nonstop in Hollywood since 1986, and when “According to Jim” ended after eight seasons, I thought you would take a little breather from series television. What made you decide to jump back in with “Two and a Half Men”?

Courtney Thorne-Smith: It wasn’t really jumping back in — it was sort of like I put my little tiny toe in. The first season I was on, I did only two episodes, and then I did about 10 last year and about 10 this year, so it’s nice. When [my son] Jack complains about me working I say: “Sweetie, I work 10 weeks a year and most of those are half-days. So you really don’t get to complain.” This schedule is ideal for being a mom. I get to go to work and be this absolutely insane character and do these crazy things that I’ve never gotten the chance to do before, and then I come home and make Play-Doh and cookies.

CE: Tell me about your character, Lyndsey, and her relationship with Alan, played by Jon Cryer.

CTS: I said to somebody the other day who was asking me about Alan and Lyndsey, “I love their relationship so much because of their honesty.” They are two people who look at each other and say, “Seriously, we’re just not going to do any better.” They’re settling, and I just love the honesty. They’ve said it to each other several times: “Really? Do we have options? We’ll just stay together. Why not?” That just makes me laugh.

I also love the scene earlier in the season when Lyndsey is dating a younger man but decides she wants to be with Alan. She tells him: “I want to be with you because you’ll never leave me for a younger woman because you can’t get one.” But it was said with this joy and this love. How great is it? We don’t have any options, so let’s just be together.

CE: How did you feel about coming onto this established hit sitcom? Were you anxious, excited, scared?

CTS: Oh, terrified. When I signed on, it was only for two episodes. But I’ve known Jon for a long time, and I’ve been a fan of his too — he’s just the greatest guy. I thought, worst-case scenario, I get to watch Jon do his magic for a few weeks and then go on with my life. But I’m still on — and I’m lucky because I get to go in and work, and then I get to come home and be a mom. It’s been the most surprisingly wonderful career opportunity I’ve ever had.

CE: How was the transition from Charlie Sheen to Ashton Kutcher?

CTS: It was surprisingly smooth. Everybody wondered, “What’s going to happen?” The writers wrote a really good character for Ashton that he just stepped right into. The cast, crew and writers are all so solid that all they had to do was add another character to the mix. People miss Charlie as a person because he’s wonderful and funny and smart and sweet, but they got Ashton, so it’s a win/win. All the people here are such extraordinary pros that it was pretty seamless.

Live Chat with Roger Howarth

Fans of ABC’s hit drama “General Hospital” will be able to submit questions and receive real-time responses from Emmy winner and Fan Favorite Roger Howarth (Todd Manning), who will be up on Twitter at @generalhospital, during the East Coast broadcast of the show on WEDNESDAY, MAY 9 from 3:00-4:00 p.m., ET.  This event kicks off General Hospital live twitter chats with cast members throughout the month of May.  In the episode tomorrow, Todd returns to Port Charles to help his daughter Starr.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Interview (Y&R): Eric Braeden's John Jacob Astor Gets 3-D Treatment

By now you know that James Cameron and company have decided to rerelease their megablockbuster hit “Titanic” — it’s back on the big screen, but now it’s in 3-D. And, as many of you also know, “The Young and the Restless” star Eric Braeden portrayed American businessman John Jacob Astor IV in the 1997 film. I spoke with Eric recently about the rerelease of “Titanic,” as well as a few other topics that tickled our fancy. As always, Eric was perfectly frank and candid with me in his responses.

Daytime Dial: What did you think when you first heard that “Titanic” was going to be rereleased in 3-D?

Eric Braeden: My thoughts were they’re going to make more money, as if they needed it. There’s a saying in German: “The devil always sh*ts on the same heap.” (laughs)

DD: I know it was awhile ago, but what can you tell me about filming the movie? I read that you performed your own stunts.

EB: As you know, my character drowns. That was one of the scariest moments in this business for me, because you had all the water coming from the sides and 150 tons of water coming from the top. I had never rehearsed that before — you can’t rehearse it. Once the water reaches a certain level, then everything that is not bolted down crashes through the room. All the camera people were in diving outfits with oxygen masks, etc., but, of course, the actors weren’t. I must say it was one of the scariest moments I’ve spent in this business.

DD: That would scare the crap out of me, especially since I’m claustrophobic.

EB: Oh yes. Water rising and rising and rising, and then suddenly 150 tons comes on top.

DD: In a previous conversation, we spoke about your film “The Man Who Came Back.” Any chance you’ll make another Western like that, or maybe a sequel?

EB: No, I will never do a period piece like that again. It’s too expensive, and I would do it entirely differently. I will not deal with normal distribution companies. They are crooks, and the experience has been a very bitter one. I think a lot of independent filmmakers will now turn to the Internet to sell things directly. If you go through a distribution company, you are at their mercy.

The making of the film was wonderful. I loved it. I loved every moment of it. I would have done another film already, I enjoyed it so much, but it was such a bitter experience with the distribution. That is an experience that is shared by the majority of independent producers. Once you sign that contract with the distribution company, you may as well forget about it. It’s that bad.

DD: We are knee-deep in election coverage and debates for the 2012 presidential campaign. What are your thoughts on that?

EB: I just think it’s amazing how the public is still buying some of this crap. It is so apparently dishonest. I guess it is the best system that we have, so we live with it, but the obscene amounts of money spent on listening to the same nonsense over and over again, it’s stunning. And then people win based on having unleashed more personal attacks on someone. There’s so much dishonesty in all this. When they have these debates, there’s no one to follow up and say: “Wait a minute. What did you just say? What proof do you have of this or that?” People cannot allow them to get away with making statements that are blatantly untrue. It is all so staged and so phony. It’s disappointing. There’s not a real debate in that sense, because there are very few follow-up questions by the news anchors who conduct these debates.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Interview (Days): Lucas Comes to Sami's Rescue, Again

Bryan Dattilo, who has played Lucas Roberts on “Days of Our Lives” off and on since 1993, is back again. Lucas returns to town at the request of ex-wife Sami Brady, who is undergoing personal turmoil (as usual) and needs Lucas’ support to help her through. However, when Lucas returns from Hong Kong, it appears he’s moved on from Sami and her games: He comes back to Salem with a fiancee in tow. I spoke with Bryan recently about his return, and he is excited to see what’s in store for Lucas this go-round.

Daytime Dial: What’s it like being back on “Days,” now that you are here for a longer stay?

Bryan Dattilo: It was the kind of thing where it’s so challenging, and I did the show for so long, and to be away from it this last time, I really appreciate what I have. I think I got burnt out a little the last time, but being back now is so rejuvenating — it’s new and it’s fresh, and there also are a lot of people I used to work with. Everyone has the sense of just how valuable the job and the show is. It’s high-paced because we have so much to shoot in a short time, and the work is quicker. You really have to be on your game. It’s kind of been hard getting used to the pace again, but it’s been great.

DD: How has Lucas changed and grown since he’s been off working in Hong Kong?

BD: Before I got back, I didn’t know exactly how they were going to play it, so I didn’t know if I was going to have to speak Mandarin or if I was going to have to come in bilingual or more capable in karate or something. But Lucas comes back with a fiancee, whom he met in Hong Kong, so that has a lot of weight to it, and a lot of people react to it. He comes back a lot more business smart from being over there — a little more mature and stronger, and kind of appreciates his home and his country more. Then that spilled over into appreciating people who used to be in his life, and being there for Sami and Will and Allie.

DD: Lucas has always been a good barometer for Sami when she goes through her different crises, because he does tell it like it is with her.

BD: He does tend to hold the mirror up in front of her and shows her how it is. Of course, she is going through so many things. Some of it’s her fault and some of it’s not, and Lucas is always quick to point out when it is her fault. So, it’s made for some really good scenes. Obviously he wants to be there for his son and his daughter. And Kate can always use a hand.

DD: Can you give us any teasers about upcoming episode?

BD: Lucas is definitely going to be there for Kate, and have a lot to do with the business and the things that she’s going through. She might be a little too comfortable now — she’s due for some hardship that he’s got to help her through. Will’s got a lot of things coming up that he’ll need his dad for, and then there’s always the stuff with Sami that you never know which way that’s going to go. The great thing about the character is that you can tie him into the Austin/Carrie story line because he’s got such history there, and he’s got history with the DiMeras, and he’s got history with the Hortons and the Bradys. There are lots of avenues and story lines that could guide the character. They’ve done a really good job spreading him out.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Interview (GH): Emma Samms Is Back!

She’s back! After last appearing on “General Hospital” in June 2009, Emma Samms has returned to the show for a limited engagement as Holly Sutton. There were mixed reactions about the circumstances of her character’s most recent return, but Emma is thrilled to be back as Holly, and is equally thrilled with the story line surrounding it — and she promises that fans will be too. I spoke with Emma recently about her much-anticipated return.

Daytime Dial: I was delighted when I heard you were coming back to the show, because everything’s better with Holly.

Emma Samms: Thank you. You know, it’s the most wonderful thing. How many people get to return to a job they love and that they started — goodness — over 20 years ago? It’s such a treat. It’s extraordinary, and I’ve enjoyed myself enormously. I just did my last few scenes this morning. It’s been a complete joy.

DD: What made you decide to return to the show?

ES: They got in touch with my agent, asking if I’d like to return. I asked what kind of story did they have in mind, because I know that a lot of people weren’t particularly happy with the last time Holly came back. It wasn’t the Holly that everybody knew, and that was quite disturbing for the audience, and I think in a way for me too. Generally speaking, it wasn’t the ideal return, and I certainly didn’t want it to be the last time anybody ever saw Holly. So, when they told me what they had in mind — which, of course, I can’t tell you — I said, “Yes, please.”

And what I’m delighted about is that the new regime — the new writers and the new executive producer — are very sensitive to the history of characters and the development of the character, and they wanted it to ring true, because otherwise you might as well bring in an entirely new actor. What they have done is something that I’m very much hoping the audience will not just be pleased by, but will make them want to continue watching even after I’m gone.

DD: Can you tell me anything about Holly’s return to Port Charles? Who does she interact with?

ES: Well, this morning I did a scene with both Tony (Geary) and Tristan (Rogers). The last scenes are the best ones to me personally, in terms of being the most pleasing. I urge everybody to keep watching, even if they start thinking, “Ooo, hang on a second.” Just wait until the end of my episodes. I don’t know if that’s enough of a hint, but I really enjoyed the scenes I filmed today.

DD: Each time that you do return to the set, does it feel like a family reunion of sorts?

ES: It does. It really does feel like family, and it’s so interesting, because I’ve done lots of other works since “General Hospital.” But “General Hospital” has spoiled me, and it’s very hard to come across that wonderful atmosphere full of people who work so incredibly hard. They all know what they’re doing so well that it’s just the smoothest-running machine, and it’s such a glorious atmosphere where everybody’s equal; the crew, the actors — everybody’s on a level with everybody else.

DD: I always love hearing how warm and supportive soap-opera communities are.

ES: Yes, exactly. It really, truly is. But it’s also high pressure, and there’s a lot of homework involved, because you’ve got to know your lines when you go in. In the old days when you had all morning there rehearsing, you could almost learn them as you went. And certainly if it was less than, say, 10 pages, I didn’t even look at it the night before. I read it while getting my hair done in the morning. Sometimes you had a great deal more than that. In fact, I think I had the record for a while of 86 pages in one day, which was absurd. You get very used to working with loads of dialogue, but now they’ve speeded up the process, and this is one of hopefully many ways that they’re finding that they can make it a worthwhile financial venture so the show can continue for as long as possible.

DD: What is it about Holly Sutton that keeps you coming back to “GH” and to this role that you created?

ES: I think it’s the combination that she has, which is that she’s very bright; she’s very quick-thinking; she’s very street-smart; but she’s also compassionate. And I think that’s possibly the thing that was missing last time around, but hopefully people will see that her compassion has returned. Compassion is a really important part of her, and so it’s a lovely combination that’s very interesting to play. She’s not cynical. She’s got this big heart.

DD: Whenever you return for these stints as Holly — as well as the fact that Tristan Rogers is back, and Rick Springfield — it must feel like a fun family reunion for you.

ES: Oh gosh, yes. We were all reminiscing a lot when we were working together. You can’t help but do that. We were laughing about that first location, big location, shoot where we wake up in Victoria. That was in the very early days. Also, I was remarking about how the set that was the Scorpio house had the open staircase at the back of it, and how we kind of moved into that. We kept things in the drawers. That really did feel like home. I know it was missing a fourth wall, but actually we kept stuff in there.

DD: With the demise of “One Life to Live,” the higher-ups decided to bring some “OLTL” characters over to “GH” …

ES: I think it’s genius that they’re bringing in some characters from “One Life to Live.” That makes absolutely perfect sense. It was a great show, had some great characters and, gosh, if they can combine those two audiences — it’s a bit of a no-brainer, really.

DD: How do you feel about the future of soaps, in this time of cancellations?

ES: Obviously I think it would be a terrible shame if America lost “General Hospital,” but I think if anybody can save it and keep it on and keep it vibrant and relevant, it would be (executive producer) Frank (Valentini), because I’ve been watching the difference with him at the helm, and it is quite drastic. He’s interested in all aspects of the show, so hopefully that will make it a much more cohesive product. He was there on the set when we were shooting my scenes, and he was interested in the performance and the camera shots and the wardrobe and everything. He obviously cares about it, and I admire that so much. It reminds me of the days of Gloria Monty, when I first started, because it was her vision, and it has to be a complete vision. All of the different departments and features of the show come together on the screen, and Frank wants to see everything and put it all together. I’m really impressed by that, and that therefore gives me a lot of hope for the show.

The one thing that all of us on daytime dramas know is the audience is still there. Soaps are still enormously popular, and I think it’s just a matter of finding a way to make them financially viable. But there’s got to be a way to do that, and ABC obviously wants to make “General Hospital” work, or else they wouldn’t have brought in Frank. Hopefully they do have in mind that there is an absolute goldmine there, and if they can just get it right for the current market, it could go on forever.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Days Actors' Appearance in Atlanta

“Days of our Lives” actors to appear at charity events to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association in Atlanta.

“Days of our Lives” actors James Scott (EJ, pictured), Galen Gering (Rafe), Eric Martsolf (Brady), Shawn Christian (Daniel), Wally Kurth (Justin), Matt Ashford (Jack) and Patsy Pease (ex-Kim) will be in attendance.

The Days Charity Events will take place on Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel Atlanta. The weekend will start with a “Kick Off Party” on Friday at 7 pm, where some of the actors may attend. Then on Saturday, the Questions and; Answers Session will be held from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, the Meet and Greet will be held from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM and the Cocktail Reception will be held from 8:00 PM to 12:00 AM

“I have the great privilege of being invited to many different charity events, but I’ve always considered the events coordinated by “Days Charity Events” to be the most worthwhile and the most fun.” James Scott (EJ, “Days of our Lives”)

“I love being with the fans and the best part is when it’s something you believe in and you know that the events are run by good people.” Brandon Beemer (Owen, “Bold and the Beautiful”)

Tickets prices start as low as $20 per person and the events will have novelties, raffles, and auctions available. For more information please go to

The events are coordinated and organized by Days Charity Events Inc.

All celebrity guests have agreed to and confirmed their appearance on the date listed above but if unforeseen circumstances do arise and the celebrity cancels or is replaced this is beyond our control and beyond the control of the actor. We will do everything we can so this does not happen but we thank you for your understanding if it does. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ex-GL and AMC Star Attempts Suicide

Daniel von Bargen, perhaps best known in the soap world from Guiding Light and All My Children, was hospitalized this week after shooting himself in the head in a botched suicide attempt.

The Montgomery, Ohio, resident shot himself in the temple with a Colt 38 gun on Monday. He called Hamilton County 911 after his attempt failed.

According to the call, Von Bargen shot himself to avoid going to the hospital. After the dispatcher asked if the shooting was accidental, von Bargen responded, " No, I was supposed to go to the hospital today, didn't want to … well, I shot myself." Von Bargen is a diabetic and was supposed to have two of his toes amputated that day.

Get the full story here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interview (Army Wives): Brigid Brannagh: "I'm a Little Geeky"

From left: Wendy Davis, Brigid Brannagh, Kim Delaney, Sally Pressman, Catherine Bell
Lifetime Television’s record-breaking drama “Army Wives,” will be back March 4th (in a two-hour event) for its sixth (and some speculate, final) season. The years have brought the wives joy and sorrow, happiness and pain, and millions of viewers have been along for the ride. I spoke with series star Brigid Brannagh, who plays Pamela Moran, about her tenure on the show, and about special moments and lifelong friends.

Daytime Dial: I can’t believe it’s almost time for the sixth season of “Army Wives” to premiere. I can remember the day I received the press screener for pilot, and I knew right away that you had something special there.

Brigid Brannagh: I know, it’s crazy to me. Time flies! It feels like yesterday to me, and it also feels like a million years ago.

DD: Last season was especially heart wrenching, with Frank and Denise losing their son Jeremy. The scenes dealing with that — especially the funeral — must have been torture to film.

BB: Oh my God, we were all like, “Make this episode stop.” It was bad. I’ve been to enough funerals where “Taps” was played and the song is, just hearing it, it just evokes so many things. It’s impossible not to feel completely consumed with melancholy when “Taps” comes on, let alone that it’s playing over and over [for filming the scenes]. We’ve been surrounded by this world, by this military army life, for all of these years that you just think about a soldier that you love being gone, and you know he’s done his best for his country, and he’s gone, and he’s just a boy. It tore all of us up. Watching Terry Serpico (who plays Frank) walk in and trying not to cry.

It was so exhausting that I didn’t watch that episode for a few weeks, because I didn’t feel like crying again. I was like, “Enough.” And we certainly didn’t go light on it. It was kind of relentless to shoot it, but we all really appreciated what it was. It was just a long day of shooting.

DD: Tell me about working with Jeremy Davidson, who plays your husband, Chase.

BB: We work really hard on trying to get things right, working with the writers and trying to really dig into some of the things that have gone on for Pamela and Chase, and the arc of what our characters have done. We’re very much alike; we’re both a little geeky. Everybody has a different way of rehearsing. Some people think that if they work on something too much it takes away spontaneity. I disagree. For me, I think if you work on something so much, it becomes second nature. So, he and I do that together. There are so many things in our story lines that I’m proud of. Right now I’m just thinking of the divorce, which also killed me. That was heart wrenching. But when you’re working with somebody who you work well with, it’s like a dance. It just flies and it’s amazing.

DD: What’s it like on the “Army Wives” set?

BB: Everybody’s a decent person — there’s no drama about trailers or anything like that. Nobody cares about that sort of stuff, which is nice, because I hear horror stories about other shows. Everybody’s a decent person. Just starting with that is a pretty big deal. I spend a lot of time with Sally Pressman (Roxy) on screen, and she and I have a really easy working relationship. And I always feel humor working with Sally. Everything she does has a wink in it. And then Kim (Delaney, who plays Claudia) is really an emoter. Like when you’re doing an emotional scene and you’re watching Kim do her thing first, you’ll start crying just because she’s so good. She just always has that emotion right there at the ready.

Catherine (Bell, who plays Denise), we’re always cracking up, because Catherine has her phone in one hand and a sandwich in the other, and is totally doing her job. It’s very funny. I’m like, “Are you doing a love scene and you’ve got a turkey sandwich in your right hand?” It’s hilarious. And then Sterling (Brown, who plays Roland) is just standing back, kind of looking at everything. He’s such a good and decent person — although he likes to cause a little trouble. We have a good time.

Interview Outtakes

Most of the time when I am conducting an interview with a soap star, I have more interview material than space for printing the interview. Here are some blurbs from stars that did not make it to the print version of the interview, but were too good not to publish.

Dominic Zamprogna, pictured (Dante Falconeri, “General Hospital”), on working with James Franco: He’s great. He’s just a really nice guy and he’s a really passionate guy, interesting guy. He’s able to do a lot right now cause he’s been blessed with some great things happening in his career, and he’s taking advantage of it. There are a lot of people in his situation who don’t want as much as he wants or to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. He’s grabbing life and fulfilling whatever he wants to fulfill, which is amazing. There should be more people out there doing what he is doing. I think James just realized that [being on a soap opera] was something he wanted to try, and why not? He doesn’t care what people think, otherwise he wouldn’t do half the stuff he’s doing. I think that’s the problem with a lot of actors these days. They do it for the wrong reasons, and they’re losing sight of what matters. You’re not supposed to be doing this so you can get famous; you’re supposed to be doing this because it’s a fire burning inside of you and you have a passion to do this. I can say that’s why almost everybody on this show is doing it, and that’s definitely why James wanted to be a part of it.

Jennie Garth (ex-Kelly Taylor, “90210”), on husband/actor Peter Facinelli: “My husband is such a serious guy most of the time, but he's funny. Makes me laugh, I know that. I love that part of us when we're having fun together. Whenever we come to a crossroads and we are like, “Marriage sucks and it's hard,” I can always come back to, “But you make me laugh so much.” I don't want to end that.

Luke Perry (ex-Dylan McKay, “90210”), on his aversion to Twitter: “We live in a world where people are obsessed with the cult of Twitter, where they have to jump on and tweet every damn thing that happens. And they all have followers. Think about it: This is a media-generated thing where everybody can have followers. I question people who want to have a bunch of followers, and that presumes that they themselves are, what, the leader? I’m not buying into any of that. It’s so weird that everybody wants to tweet and everything, and I’m like, why don’t you just go and do it? I can’t do that – I like to do.

James Reynolds (Abe Carver, “Days of Our Lives”), on working with armed-forces veterans: “I started working with the active duty military about 12 years ago, working with the U.S.O. and with armed forces entertainment. It kind of took me back to those years ago when I was a young Marine serving overseas, and I began to recognize that in this country we ask a very, very small percentage — we don’t even draft anymore —and so we are asking a very, very small number of people to not only protect us in those places that we need protection, but to be the leading edge of whatever our foreign policy may be at the time. I got a letter a few years ago from a young woman whose husband was serving in Afghanistan at the time — this was about seven or eight years ago — she was losing their family home while he was in Afghanistan. It made me realize that we need to draw more attention to what is going on with these young men and women that we’re asking to put their lives and bodies on line for us, and we cheer them and do all of this here, but then we forget about them when they’re not there. So it seemed like a natural fit, and I wanted to make a point to them that all Americans care about them, regardless of political point of view.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Interview (Days): James Reynolds, "Abe Is a Man of Integrity"

James Reynolds has portrayed Abe Carver on “Days of Our Lives” since 1981 (taking leave from 1990 to 1991 to portray tycoon Henry Marshall on “Generations”), and in that time, his character has ascended the ranks of the Salem Police Department from police captain to commissioner to Salem’s mayor. Now, honest Abe is in the fight of his political career as he battles the not-so-upstanding EJ DiMera to retain his position of mayor. I spoke with James about his tenure as Salem’s stalwart public servant, as well as the fireworks that this impending election definitely will set off.

Daytime Dial: You’ve been quoted as saying: “Abe was a minority character of tremendous integrity who was not working for somebody else. He was in charge — and that meant a lot to the African-American audience.” Tell me more about Abe’s impact on “Days” and the “Days” audience.

James Reynolds: Well, Abe’s kind of an iconic character in a lot of ways, because he’s been there for so long. He has been the guy in charge for most of the time that he has been in the public eye. He is so strongly woven into the tapestry of what Salem is. You can’t have a picture of Salem or the people of Salem without Lexie and Abe, and that can’t be said for many of the other shows that are on the air, whether they are daytime or nighttime shows.

DD: Abe has always been a man of integrity, but now he is running against EJ for mayor, and we all know EJ will stoop to just about anything to be elected. How can Abe hope to prevail?

JR: He hopes to prevail by actually giving answers, actually presenting solutions to problems. That’s Abe’s plan. The issue is that EJ plans to win through chicanery. The city’s important to Abe. This is the city he grew up in. This is the city he loves. There was a point where Stefano offered Abe the governorship if he would drop out, and Abe refused that. While that’s something he thinks about for the future, the city of Salem is where the people he loves and his family are, and that’s something he wants to leave a stamp on. He wants to see this town succeed and grow and progress. With Abe, he really does want to serve.

DD: I love the strong, protective relationship that Lexie and Abe display for one another. She is standing by him and sticking up for him through all of this, even though EJ is her brother.

JR: Yeah, well, everything in Salem is a little bit incestuous, as we know. It would be difficult to run for office in Salem without someone being related to someone else. There is a conflict there with Lexie, but her husband always comes first. She loves Abe deeply and dearly, and has always been conflicted about her brother and about being a DiMera.

DD: The big debate is coming up — can you give me any teasers as to what viewers can expect?

JR: Very much like the recent debates in the real world, our debate is going to make a huge difference going forward in this campaign. Both of us are going to perform fairly well, but there are going to be some things that happen during this debate that will affect the election deeply.

DD: As you look back on your career with “Days,” what have been some of your favorite story lines for Abe?

JR: I’ve been fortunate; there have been so many. My first one absolutely was the Salem Strangler, where Abe came on the show just a few weeks ahead of Roman. Abe and Roman were designed to come on the show together. So, the Salem Strangler will always be a fond story for me.

Abe finding out that he had fathered a son with Fay was a story that I think really resonates even today. And when Abe and Lexie wanted to have a son together and adopted Isaac, which transformed in a baby-switching story. There have been so many over time, and I’ve learned to appreciate all of them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interview: Luke Perry Gets Back in the Saddle

When “Goodnight for Justice” premiered on the Hallmark Movie Channel in January 2011, it became the network’s highest-rated film ever. “Goodnight” star, series creator and executive producer Luke Perry returns as Circuit Court Justice John Goodnight for the second part of the intended trilogy, which premieres on the Hallmark Channel Saturday, Jan. 28 at 8/7c. “Goodnight for Justice: The Measure of a Man” follows Justice Goodnight as he travels alone through the Wild West dispensing justice to towns that would otherwise stumble into chaos. On this particular journey, John finds himself facing a woman from his past, Callie Bluepoint (played by Stefanie von Pfetten), who lives in a town threatened by a murderous outlaw, Deke Spradling (Teach Grant).

Daytime Dial: When you learned that the original “Goodnight for Justice” broke records for the Hallmark Movie Channel, what were your hopes for the future of the “Goodnight” franchise?

Luke Perry: I was hoping maybe to get the chance to do another one. That’s what I was hoping. I just don’t go into it with any expectation other than I just try to make the best movie every time. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes there’s a baseball game or basketball game or something on that draws all the television audience away. There are just too many variables to worry about and that kind of stuff, so you just make the movies that you can.

DD: Because of the success of the previous film, did you feel the pressure to really deliver with “Measure of a Man”?

LP: I felt pressure to deliver a really good movie. I feel the pressure to do all I can to promote the film, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that audiences are fickle and different things happen. You just try to make the best movie you can and control what you can, which is your part of the process.

DD: Last we saw John Goodnight, he had a lady friend, Kate Ramsey, who isn’t in this movie. I assume the traveling required of him for his job makes maintaining relationships pretty difficult.

LP: Yeah, it’s just the nature of the position — you have to travel. She wasn’t in a position to go with him, and he’s got to keep traveling. But it would be great for him to get back to her eventually.

DD: When we first see John, there is definite evidence being on the road is wearing on him: His hair is shaggier; his clothes are a bit shabby …

LP: I’m glad you liked that and noticed that, because those are the kind of things — believe it or not — that you have to fight for. People were like: “No, clean up. Look good in the clothes.” I said: “Wait a minute, guys. He’s out there weeks at a time; it’s just not going to happen. You gotta look rough.” And I do look rough.

DD: Since there are few ties to the original film aside from some explained back story, “Measure of a Man” really can be viewed as a stand-alone movie as well as part of a series. Was that your intention?

LP: I hadn’t thought about that. That’s a very interesting point that you make. One of the things that I had discussed was that with each movie and the nature of the franchise is that each one is going to be a different story. He’s going to be in a different place, always traveling, so within the telling of the actual story, you don’t have to cover [what he’s been doing between movies]. The next movie that you will see is the one where it all comes full circle. I feel like we really hit our stride completely. “Measure of a Man” is the perfect segue between the two. It all ramps up, and by the third one we just all go in gangbusters.

DD: I also have to tell you that from the opening frames of the movie, the musical score really caught my attention — it’s just beautiful.

LP: I’m glad you mentioned that, and I would really like to take the time to talk about Graeme Coleman, our composer. He’s just such a talented guy. I told him: “Graeme, go for it. Give me that big Western stuff.” I want the music to be as much a character in this movie as anything else, because in all my favorite ones it is. And he doesn’t shy away from it. He steps right up to it. People who love traditional Westerners are looking for a good score. I’m very proud of Graeme’s work.

DD: You have a lot of scenes with Cameron Bright (of “The Twilight Saga”), who plays Will. Did you spend a lot of time together off set to build up camaraderie and chemistry?

LP: Oh, yeah. We had dinner together almost every night. I spent a lot of time with Cameron, and he was cool because he came in and put some time in — as much as he could — before the movie, getting to learn stuff he didn’t know how to do. If you don’t know how to ride a horse, don’t say you do. He didn’t do that. He was really honest about what he could do, but he was also really honest about being willing to learn, and he had a good capacity for it, so it was cool.

As we were shooting, I’d think, “Let’s just see how much of this we can get shot today, and Cameron was really great. He stayed in that saddle a lot longer than a lot of other people would. He hung in there, and we climbed him up there in those mountains, and he was great.

DD: Cameron plays Alec in the phenomenally successful “Twilight Saga,” which has a screaming-fan contingent wherever the stars seem to go. You’ve had to deal with your share of screaming teens; did you give him any advice?

LP: (Laughs) I wouldn’t know anything about that sort of thing.

DD: This time around, John has really found his niche and is in his element. What does he enjoy about his job and his life?

LP: Anytime you have to kill someone, even in the name of the law, it is no small feat. It’s not something this character does lightly. I think it’s really rewarding for him because you can see how the law can really be the great leveler in protecting the weakest among us, and that’s what it’s supposed to do. What I think is interesting about him also is he’s an active participant in this world by traveling through for his job.

DD: You mentioned a third “Goodnight” film. Can you give me any details?

LP: Well, we shot the third one. We started shooting it the day after we finished the second one. The third one is, it’s not as heavy a story. I said they can’t all live in a super highly dramatic state. Sometimes this guy is just out there, and there is still some justice that needs to be weeded out, but it doesn’t always come down to a life-or-death thing, and it doesn’t always come down to something intensely personal for him. Some of my favorite Westerns were a little bit lighter in tone, and there’s some good run and jump in the next one.

DD: Is the third film the end of the John Goodnight saga, or can we expect a new chapter?

LP: We are actively negotiating the future for this character, because so far it’s something that has worked out well for everybody. I like making them, and they do very well for the channel, so if that continues, then we will continue.

DD: You could be like Tom Selleck with his “Jesse Stone” movies …

LP: Aw, man — compare me to Tom Selleck. Yeah, I wish. He’s so great. I’d love to do a Western with him.