NY Stars Shine for Their Shows
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Every year the daytime community honors its own. No, not the faces in front of the cameras, but the faces no one knows. The men and women who write the scripts, direct the actors, work the cameras, adjust the sound, and edit the stories that make us return day after day to find out what’s going to happen next. It may not be an evening as glamorous as the live show from Radio City Music Hall, but it’s just as much fun. Ask anyone who was there and they’ll tell you why.
“I’m not presenting. I’m here to cheer on my friends,” the very handsome and debonair Jerry Ver Dorn (Ross, GL), told SOAPDOM as he entered the Marriott Marquis’ Broadway Ballroom Saturday night. “We got lighting nominations, hair and make-up nominations.” The crew received more nomination than he could remember, he’s a loyal to them as they to him, “If you’ve got a heavy story line, you spend more time with them than you your family. So, I just wanted to be here tonight to clap. This is more fun than the televised Emmy’s, because it’s not as phony. It’s not as tense. You don’t have Dick Clark shouting at you to hurry up. It’s much more casual and relaxed. You can actually have conversations with friends.”
When Maeve Kincaid returned for a couple of episodes recently, to deal with their daughter, Dinah, he was thrilled, “I had such a good time that I’m hoping they can lasso her into coming back for a couple of months. Then, somehow get Blake on the canvas, then we’d be off and running. Then we’d get Maureen Garrett to come back, than I’d be a happy man.” Surrounded by all his women and the long history each of them brings to TV’s longest running daytime drama, Ver Dorn can only dream, like the rest of GL’s devoted fans. The recent behind the scene changes have been good for everyone, “It’s been a good time because everybody likes the new head writer, who’s very young. He grew up with the show and he’s very conscious of the history. Of course, Ellen Wheeler, having been an actress herself, so, it’s really nice over there. And, we’re moving over to the broadcast center.” After many years on the east side of Manhattan Guiding Light is moving to much larger quarters at the CBS Broadcast Center on the far west side. The real perk for Ver Dorn is the commute. It’s shorter.
Most of you know Ellen Wheeler, the dynamic actress from Another World, All My Children, and As The World Turns. She switched hats and took on the role of director for both World Turns and Guiding Light. The work behind the scenes really seemed to agree with her, “I love it. I love it. I can eat all the potato chips I want.” About a year ago she took on the most challenging role of her career, GL’s Executive Producer. Does she miss acting? “I feel like I’m so involved in what’s going on that I don’t really have a pang to go back in front of the camera. I have all these wonderful people working for me and I get to watch their performances and to get part of what they do in small way. So, I’m happy where I am. I love what I do.”
Kathy Brier’s arrival got the paparazzi going. But she stopped to give SOAPDOM more than just her take on the entire Emmy experience. “For me last year was amazing. I was nominated, so it was very cool and it’s fun. You get to dress up. You get to look pretty.” Even though she’s not nominated this year, Brier’s putting it all together and will be there supporting her friends and co-workers, “I’m so proud of Ilene Kristen and Kassie DePaiva. When I found out that this was the first time Kassie was ever nominated, I was shocked.”
Now that she’s into the swing of things, life has become much easier and settled for Brier, “I come from musical theatre and we don’t have to dress up. And that’s one of the things I hated when I first started. I always had to make sure my clothes looked good and my hair looked good, and my make-up looked good.” She couldn’t help but laugh, that throaty laugh of hers, “I just don’t care about that stuff. So, I’m learning. I’m being trained to be a soap diva.” Who’s her trainer? “My co-workers, the hair and make-up people. They’re always helping me with things. It’s trial by error. Now, it’s more fun. I like it when I’m not nominated. ‘Cuz, then I don’t have to worry about what I’m wearing.”
For this event, Brier dressed herself – off the rack! No fool she, her outfit came from that from that fine bargain hunter’s establishment, H&M! But she also borrowed a few things – from both her grandmother and her mother! “I don’t think you always have to buy fancy clothes to look good, or spend tons and tons of money on clothes either. That’s one of the big mistakes people make. Obviously, it’s fun to splurge a little once in awhile, if you can afford it. One of the things my mother taught me is you can always look nice, no matter how much money you have.”
As for Marcie and her future, “I think she’s going to have a breakdown soon. All these killings are happening around her. She’s changing. She’s always changing. I don’t how somebody can kind of come out of this situation and not have it completely change them.” SOAPDOM wanted to know about the men in Marcie’s life. She burst out laughing, “My love life sucks on the show. It’s fun to have a different dynamic to play and you’ve never seen Marcie in that situation before. She’s usually just always been so much in love, not that she’s not still in love with Michael, but I think it’s interesting to see her in the dynamic of, ‘Okay, I don’t know what to do,’ this is only the second major relationship in her life, she doesn’t know what to do. A lot of times she freezes, which is kind of interesting.”
Brier is still having fun. “In my world I would like Marcie to be as mischievous as she used to be, but they’ve taken the character and molded her and moved her. It’s fun, but in a different way. It’s a lot more challenging than it used to be, because the more you get into character the more you have to pull it apart. When I first started, I was just going on instinct. Working was working. Now you have to think about all these other story lines that went on and how they affect you and how they play into the next story line that you’re doing. It’s fun, but in a very different way.”
Brier would love to Broadway again one day, “but not while I’m on the soap opera. It is exhausting. It’s one of those things you love and it’s worth it. But having done it and survived it….” She just laughed a very knowing laugh. She started on One Life, than was cast as the female lead replacement in the hit musical, HAIRSPRAY. “It was funny, when I first took over the show, everybody said, ‘it’s the soap girl coming on’, but I’ve been doing musical theatre for 16 years. Everybody thought I was an overnight success, because all of a sudden I had this huge fan base that knew me from television. When I first started to hear somebody call me ‘the soap girl.’ it was so weird. I would get fans stopping me on the street and I wouldn’t know why they were stopping me.” Now, she knows.
SOAPDOM approached Frank Dicopoulos (Frank, GL) who looked like the happiest man in the room. All smiles, he took a few minutes to talk about this special night. “I got lucky. I’m presenting five different categories for music. I’ve done this show for five years. It’s a great night. It’s a lot of fun. No pressure. Everybody’s always in a good mood, and feeling festive, and alive. That makes it fun. There’s a different energy between here and the big show. I’ve always enjoyed it.”
What’s coming up for Frank and GL? “Well, my daughter, Mandy Bruno (Marina) is involved with a mafia family and I’m not too happy about that. My sister is in prison for murdering Phillip Spaulding. That’s still out! Just dealing with my family. That’s enough for one father and brother. I’m very lucky I have a great character and I’m on a terrific show.”
The hotel was swarming with cast members from Guiding Light. They really did come out in support of the people who make them look good. Just as the bell was ringing to usher everyone inside for dinner, SOAPDOM was lucky enough to catch up with Marj Dusay (Alexandra, GL). “I’m supporting our crew. There’s our lighting man.” She just beams as she points to him running the gauntlet. “He’s the most important thing in the world to me. Lighting people get the biggest gifts at Christmas time and we have a good time and we get to see some other friends from other shows. So, it’s just a happy evening. We get to see all of these guys dressed up. She can’t give anything away when it comes to her story line, “They keep it all under wraps. It’s such a secret!”
Hot on her heels was Gina Tognoni, (Dinah, GL). “We’re not presenting, but we’re here to support the nominees from Guiding Light. And we are so thrilled. Casting has been nominated. Hair and make-up has been nominated. We’re just thrilled. We really are and we’re just here to support our technical categories. The televised event is a little bit more hyped in terms of the fans. Here’s it’s a quieter approach, but just as special.”
Tognoni swept into looking stylish and oh, so, chic! “It’s a two piece little ensemble.” A lovely beigeish-grey shawl over a black skirt. The splendid looking black elastic skirt could have been sewn right on her tiny little body, “I wear it on the show and I love it. It’s groovy.” The designer, “JOOLAYNYC,” knows Tognoni well, as she’s the woman who dresses daily on GL. Gina Tognoni really defines the words simplicity and elegance.
Tanisha Lynn (Danielle, AMC) was one only three All My Children cast mates to make an appearance. She presented last year and decided to attend this year for a couple of very nice reasons. Like so many others she wanted to support and show her Mom, who’ in from Houston, a great evening on the town. “It’s just a really fun night and I thought my mother would like it so I’m bringing her along. Since summer is coming, AMC fans can always count on heavy teen story lines and this year is no exception. “There will be a little bit of drama…a possibility of a triangle. There will be conflict, though.” But she wouldn’t give SOAPDOM any more tidbits.
As for her present story line, “I was actually surprised, the way it was written, that both of them were virgins. I wasn’t expecting that. It was a bit of a twist for me. I think it’s great, because it shows when someone really does love you, they will wait and respect your wishes…your desires…what your fears are. Not only is Danielle not ready, but also she is fearful of what will come next. What will it be? Will things change? So a lot of things come into play when you decide to become physical or intimate with someone.”
This Houston native looked absolutely lovely in a short yellow brocade dress with tiny spaghetti straps, much more glamorous than her alter ego, Danielle Frye. On the other hand, Lynn is rather shy and reserved, not nearly as spunky or in your face as the young woman she loves to play. “I’m really enjoying myself. I love it there, at All My Children. I’m excited about what’s to come, especially this summer.”
Like so many other GL cast members, Crystal Chappell, (Olivia, GL) showed up for one reason, “I love my crew. And they’re talented, and fortunately a lot of them were nominated tonight and that’s the only reason I’m here. It’s out of pure love. I love ‘em! I love that I’m part of this community. And, I want to be part of it for a long time. And on her arm Saturday night was her handsome husband, Michael Sabatino (ex Vince, GL).
It’s a very busy week, with all sorts of parties, but Chappell reminded SOAPDOM that she has two small children. Their schedules come first. But she is thrilled about her nomination and what she sees as the many changes in this year’s competition. “More than anything I can’t wait to see people who deserve to win. There are so many. Grant Aleksander (Phillip, GL) has done amazing work. Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, GH) is long over due, as much as I love my Zimmer. And, she’s brilliant, but that’s the thing, she’s just always brilliant. I think that Heather Tom (Kelly, OLTL) has had an amazing year and Jeanie Cooper (Kay, Y&R), did some amazing work. I love watching actors work and I respect that. And, isn’t that great that Kassie DePaiva’s (Blair, OLTL) nominated? She so deserved that nomination. I saw her tape and her tape was worthy. That was one of my favorite things about the whole eight leading actresses. There are people who have deserved nominations for a while that haven’t been and I’m glad they went in that direction this year. So, for me, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about being a part of the whole experience.”
SOAPDOM tried to grab All My Children’s Jill Larson (Opal) and Thorsten Kaye (Zach), but time was running out. However, we got real lucky. At the very end of a very long evening, Ms. Larson took a moment to chat. She looked great in a long white skirt made out of men’s formal trousers. Very cool look! Under one of the pleats was the fly! The brainchild of a French designer, Larson told us. Her multi-colored shawl was a Christmas gift and it looked wonderful with her flaming red hair. As for Opal and her place in Pine Valley, “I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read ahead, but I know that she’ll be somewhat involved in the story of Dixie. It’s kind of intriguing!” Like so many other working women Larson juggles a full home life, as well as time at the studio, “I love being a Mom, but I’m an actress and I love to work.” How she finds time for it all is a minor miracle, especially since her daughter is growing up – fast! She’s nine and she’s an athlete. She’s a soccer and tennis player.” The minute Larson washes off the greasepaint she’s onto next job, “It’s a lot of work, but I love it.”
It’s all a lot of work. And as glamorous as nights like this appear to the rest of us, it’s all work for the hard-working people who create and produce the beloved serials we watch every day. How much you want to bet they’d like to be sitting at home, with their feet on a coffee table and with a great big bowl of popcorn in their laps? Well, maybe not all of them, but some of them….
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