Friday, April 26, 2013

Interview: Brooke Burns Exacts Her Revenge

You might be used to seeing Brooke Burns cast as, in her words, “the apple-pie, blond-haired, blue-eyed, all-American girl.” Her various roles on TV shows and movies like “Baywatch,” “Shallow Hal,” “Miss Guided” and “Pepper Dennis” showcased her sweetness; the more recent “Melrose Place” incarnation allowed her to explore her dark side. Well, get ready for a whole lotta dark-side exploration on Saturday, April 26 at 8 pm ET/PT, when Brooke’s new movie, “A Sister’s Revenge,” premieres on Lifetime. I caught up with Brooke recently, and she told me all about her fierce new role as a woman (named Suzanne Dell) seeking revenge on the man she feels is responsible for her sister’s suicide.

Daytime Dial: Since we are used to you as “the nice girl,” it was a shock to see you in this kind of role. Was that a big reason you wanted to do this movie?

Brooke Burns: There were a couple of things. Obviously, the longer you’re in this industry, certain roles start to recirculate through your life. And then certain ones are new and fresh, and it’s always fun to kind of sink your teeth into something a little more diverse than what you’re used to.

I love the thriller aspect of this movie, and at the same time, it’s always fun, especially in a bad-guy role, to find justification for a character. And I loved the fact that she has this deep love for her sister; I found a lot of truth in feeling sort of like her champion and being able to justify her being in a very dark place in the film. With a bad-guy role, you have to be able to find empathy for the character as well. She’s driven to madness because of the love that she has for her sister and feeling like somehow that her sister’s death will be avenged if she can pull this off.

DD: Obviously you aren’t a homicidal maniac, but in what ways can you relate to Suzanne?

BB: Her fierce loyalty to family. She lost her parents, and her sister is the only person that she has, that she feels connected to. My family is my most important thing, so I can’t even imagine if that were the last family member and she were taken from me in that kind of way. How those feelings of anger and sadness would be very potent, and could probably drive a person to some level of insanity — if you allow yourself to go there.

DD: Tell me about the filming process: Where did you film, and how was the cast to work with?

BB: We shot in Ottawa, Canada, which has some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen. And the cast was fantastic. I worked mostly with Tim (Rozon) and Ashley (Jones), and we had a ball. Tim is such a gentleman, and he actually owns a couple of restaurants in Montreal. And Ashley and I have seen each other in passing through different stuff out here, but we had never actually worked together before. And we just had a great time.

DD: You’ve done dramas, comedies, hosting duties, etc. Is there a certain genre you prefer, or are you happy to dabble in lots of things to keep it interesting?

BB: I just like to work. I think from growing up as a ballerina, I have some incredible discipline and work ethic that was deeply ingrained in me, so whether it’s acting or hosting, I’m happy. I enjoy acting because you get to dip your toe into the fantasy of a role like Suzanne in “A Sister’s Revenge.” And I enjoy the hosting because I love people, and that’s a natural kind of medium for me that I enjoy as well. I don’t really have a preference. It’s never boring; it’s not a nine-to-five job.

DD: Lately I’ve seen you in a lot of dramas, but I love you in comedies too, especially that comedy series “Miss Guided” from a few years back. Would you like to get back to comedy?

BB: Oh, yeah. Comedy’s awesome. When you get to go to work and have fun and play and laugh, there’s nothing better. It’s some of the hardest work to do, but it’s also the most rewarding. It really depends on the people you are with, and what your chemistry is with them. I would say that “Miss Guided” and “Pepper Dennis” were my two favorite comedic roles that I’ve gotten to do, for sure.

DD: What else do you have in the pipeline that you can talk about with me?

BB: I just shot a pilot for the Game Show Network. It’s a dating show called “Where Have You Been All My Life?” It’s kind of a 2013 version of “The Dating Game,” which I was obsessed with. It is super fun, and they’re using a lot of social media as research, and using it in an onscreen format. It’s been a blast, and we’re waiting to see if it gets picked up. I really hope it does, because it’s just perfect. It fits my lifestyle because it’s in LA. It’s close to home. I get to be with my family. I like that stuff.

So that’s pretty much what’s going on right now, except for I’m planning my wedding. So that’s exciting. It’s a summertime wedding. And I’m trying to get my kids out of seventh grade with honors. I love little things in life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Interview: Linda Gray

The second season of TNT’s reboot of “Dallas” (which airs Monday nights at 9/8c) has started with a bang. While the new season will be bittersweet — with the recent death of series star and legendary actor Larry Hagman — the cast is eager for fans to see what the Ewings are up to now. I recently spoke with longtime “Dallas” star Linda Gray, and she can’t wait for viewers to experience the new season.

Daytime Dial: First and foremost, I must tell you how sorry I am about the passing of your dear friend and castmate Larry Hagman. What will you remember most about him, and about working with him?

Linda Gray: Thank you very much. From day one, he was magic to work with, and it never stopped being magic. He was a joy to watch, and looking into those baby-blue eyes and going, “You little rat, what are you doing now?” When Larry and I worked together, it was really like a Ping-Pong game. It wasn’t a tennis game; it was faster, like Ping-Pong.

He was a great, generous actor. I remember in 1978, I was coming at him (in a scene between Sue Ellen and J.R.) and just yelling at him or something, and he gently took my shoulders and moved me; I didn’t realize it, but I had gotten out of my light. Another actor would have thought: “Let her bury herself. She’ll be in the dark; I’ll be in the light. Perfect.” But he wasn’t like that. He was gentle like that. It was an unspoken chemistry that happens so rarely in life, and I was blessed to know him.

DD: When TNT first approached you about the resurrection of “Dallas,” what did you think about coming back to the show, and to the character of Sue Ellen Ewing?

LG: That was just beyond fabulous. It was a big surprise for Patrick (Duffy, who plays Bobby Ewing), Larry and I. We called each other immediately, shouting: “Oh my God! We get to work together in the same characters that we love.” And that wouldn’t have happened before, because we are too recognizable. We never, ever get to work together in anything (other than “Dallas”), so this was a win-win situation. I am loving every second of it.

DD: How has Sue Ellen changed in the 20-year interim between the series?

LG: I really did some wonderful homework for this. That’s the fun part of being an actor. She was born and raised in Texas. She was Miss Texas. She knew everybody in Texas. She knew all the oil deals that J.R. had done — good, bad or indifferent. She knew all those politicians; she knew all the oil men; she knew everything and everybody.

It’s 20 years later, and she’s now sober. Lots of things went on in her life prior to coming back. She’s no longer the victim; she’s a survivor. Life is different for her. I didn’t want her to be the same. She couldn’t have been the same. Bobby could still be the good guy, J.R. could still be the bad guy — but adored by fans with that cute little smile — but Sue Ellen had to be different.

DD: I am bummed that she lost the election to become Texas’ new governor.

LG: This is a little tidbit that I like to tell people: The governor lives in Austin, so if she had won, she would have had to live in Austin. The show’s called “Dallas,” so we didn’t need that. (Laughs.) We need her in Dallas. It’s OK she lost. She can move on to what’s next. This is the fun part, the absolute joy. You don’t ever know where Sue Ellen is going. That’s why I love this character.

DD: Can you give me any clues as to what the rest of the season has in store for us?

LG: Not a clue. You have to stay tuned. I can’t tell you anything, and I won’t, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you. It’s a surprise for us each week when we get our scripts, so for me to take away that surprise for you would be very bad for me to do.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Interview: Greg Vaughan's New Role on Days

Eric Brady, Sami’s twin brother, hasn’t been on the Salem scene for more than a decade — until now, that is. Daytime veteran Greg Vaughan stepped into the role, and into a clerical collar, a few months ago, with a story line that was unexpected to Greg and his fans. I spoke with “Father” Greg a few weeks back about taking on this new role and how he’s adjusting to the “Days of our Lives” set.

Daytime Dial: In order to prepare for the role of Eric Brady, did you read the backstory, watch some old episodes, etc., or did you decide to do none of this to come in with a fresh take on the character?

Greg Vaughan: I did want a fresh take, but I have history with the show from the outside looking in because I dated a young lady who was once on the show. And then I knew a lot of the cast, and one of them being Jensen (Ackles, who played Eric from 1997 to 2000). And so in portraying the role and the character itself, I was familiar with everything up and to that point. But it’s been more than 10 years, and so much has changed, and I just felt like he had definitely come into his own as a man. I wanted to use my own pallet of colors on the character, if you will. I wanted to create my own vision, and what better way to do that — especially when I was informed that he was going to be a priest?

DD: I think a lot of us were surprised by that turn of events!

GV: For me, it was more of a deer-in-the-headlights kind of shock, like: “Wow! Now THAT is going to be a challenge!” I was thinking he’d be more of a Jason Bourne type of guy. But then when I heard he’d be a priest, I explored into that and my personal life journeys, and then I’m like, “You know, this could be kind of interesting.” And it will be challenging, because I’ll be out of my element. What better way as an actor to challenge yourself than getting out of your comfort zone?

DD: How much have you filmed? I know Christmastime always plays a big part in Salem.

GV: We film very far in advance, and that’s very much out of my box. We’re shooting like three months ahead of time, so half of the stuff I’ve already done I don’t even recall. I think our Christmas scenes were filmed before Halloween. But as I recall, there’s going to be a lot of good quality and a nice, really spiritual family time, and I think everybody is going to be taken by it.

DD: How were your first few days on the set? Were you excited, nervous?

GV: There was a lot of excitement, like Christmas Day or something, because I knew a lot of the cast previously. There was just an overall feeling of “this is going to be fun.” Everybody has graciously welcomed me. I was a little bit overwhelmed because the pace is so fast. It was not something I was used to. Alison Sweeney and I were doing a movie a little while back, and she said: “Things have changed quite a bit. Not just with the genre, but each show.”

DD: How has that changed you as an actor?

GV: It definitely made me step up my game. It’s like, you’re being given a great opportunity, so take the bull by the horns, do your work and come in here and perform. You get a lot of people who are used to the stage and a lot of people who are used to prime time, and they can’t keep up with the pace. It’s so fast — you have to digest it, regurgitate it, spit it out, and then start over and move on to the next scene. Out of the gate, I didn’t eat for like the first two weeks. Not by choice; it was just I was being pulled in so many different directions because I was in so many different scenes. I was interacting with so many new faces, and I was trying to get some sense of rapport and history and education about where and who I was. But now I finally feel like it’s a nice, steady flow. I’ve gotten into a good rhythm.

DD: Can you tell me anything about Eric’s future in Salem?

GV: In Eric’s journey, he’s definitely had his own issues and battles to deal with. There are a lot of layers that are going to be revealed along the way, and we’re going to communicate that. Where he’s going, what his temptations are and reuniting with past relationships — whether it’s with Nicole and the temptation of that, and the struggle against the family and his sister, and the butting of heads with the DiMeras.

Eric is coming from a whole new perspective that’s nonjudgmental. And that’s hard. Especially when you want to stand up and fight for somebody. It’s definitely been an exciting journey so far, and I’m always looking forward to what kind of ride I’ll be taken on. I’m just glad to be working with a great cast and to be a part of such a historically great show. From the younger cast members to the veterans, there’s not one person I haven’t been taken in by or drawn in by what they’re doing.

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.