October 22nd, 2009  |  Leave a comment

The Lynn Herring Interview – As The World Turns

Lynn HerringIt’s the end of the line for Audrey Coleman and actress Lynn Herring, when the soap opera fan favorite leaves the Oakdale canvas and As the World Turns on Tuesday, October 27th. Lynn, who signed a short term contract in the role of Henry’s money-hungry mother from hell, Audrey, stole the show in every scene she was in. But, that is nothing new for Herring. After all, for
17 years combined, on both General Hospital and its spinoff, Port Charles, she played Lucy Coe for all she was worth…and then some. Married to actor, Wayne Northop, (the original Roman Brady of Days of our Lives) for 28 years, the actors run a cattle ranch in a small community in Northern California. It has been six years since Lynn left the country lifestyle to come back in front of the cameras and the Big Apple, for her return no less.

On-Air On-Soaps wanted to speak to Lynn at the end of her run, to get her views on how she felt her guest-stint went, and how the daytime landscape has shifted. With the soap opera genre trying to change the way it facilitates guest star turns to garner a ratings burst, and to attract more viewers from other soaps with familiar and legacy characters from those daytime dramas, Lynn saw first hand how ATWT has been bringing actors on and off. Having to deal with new soap budgetary constraints was all something new for the beloved Herring, as well. But even through that she says the work was a joy. To this day, viewers of General Hospital and Lynn herself are clamoring for a Lucy comeback…but, the actress is quick to point out, only if the situation made sense.

So, how did the bitchfest scenes between ATWT’s Colleen Zenk Pinter’s, Barbara, and Lynn’s, Audrey, go down? What was it like getting to work with soap vets, Anthony Herrera ( James Stenbeck) and her ex-GH hubby and buddy, Stuart Damon (Ex-Alan, GH, and Ralph ATWT)? How about getting to play the very young mom of Henry Coleman, played by Trent Dawson? Lynn details it all in this “Farewell…. for Now” feature.

MICHAEL:

So while you were finishing your run on As the World Turns, sadly, Guiding Light concluded. I was wondering what your feelings were, stepping back in to this genre at this very tumultuous time? What was that like for you?

LYNN:

I had lunch with Jane Eliot (Tracy, GH) and we discussed how the audience was so articulate about Guiding Light and how much they loved the show and were so sad when it ended, and that on GH, Mafia and bad violence has turned people away. The networks don’t get that our viewers are so intuitive and smart. Even GH people, who had never watched GL and are faithful to their show, understood what it meant to lose a show like that. Daytime is a lot classier than people think, and it hurt to be back on daytime and see what has happened in the genre. I love this genre!

Lynn HerringMICHAEL:

So it was a nice summer gig? I know you came to LA to move your son Hank into his first dorm at USC in the middle of all this.

LYNN:

What was nice about the As the World Turns job for the summer was it gave me space to be independent, and not miss my kids so much. I did just put my son Hank in college at USC, which was tough and great all at the same time. So my family would visit me in New York, and then go back to California. So I was not on top of them all summer trying to make Hank pack for school three months early! I would have driven the poor kid nuts! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So you taped in New York for about three months. You saw how the landscape of daytime is nowadays, and in particular at ATWT, where they move bigger name actors in and out for short story cycles.

LYNN:

It was perfect. I taped from the end of May till the end of August, and it could not have been better for me. Chris Goutman (executive producer, ATWT) told me, “It’s so hard when something clicks, or it’s working to add something in or extend it, because we are already working two months ahead and then the person leaves.” Even Judi Evans’ (Maeve) and Stuart Damon’s (Ralph) characters work so well, but the producers have a lot of cast members they have to commit story to that are there already. It’s a complicated process when you are two months ahead.

MICHAEL:

Do you think guest starring or short-term character storytelling works well in this genre?

LYNN:

I think part of it is story telling, and everybody wants their ratings to improve. So if you hit them with maybe three or four actors that have been around and are recognizable faces, it pulls in some different viewers. My problem is; I am old school style where you slowly introduce a character and you work them into a family and then you give them circumstances that no one could believe a year later. So we did not have that on ATWT, or that luxury anymore in this economy, and trying to get the ratings. Old school does not work, I guess, but everybody can debate that until we are blue in the face.

Barbara and LynnMICHAEL:

How was the experience of playing Audrey on As the World Turns?

LYNN:

Colleen Zenk Pinter (Barbara) and I, and Trent Dawson (Henry), had big discussions on that. And even Colleen was telling me in the heyday, Proctor & Gamble and CBS was a different bird than ABC. Our marketing department there, because ABC owned its soaps, was different. At CBS and P&G you are more like the English theatre, where you go get your own wardrobe and participate in a theatre group more than you are pampered in a good way on GH. The funniest thing is; you have to get used to it, and it’s nothing bad. Even Stuart Damon was used to the way GH worked. They would bring you your wardrobe and you have things done that make your days easier, but it does not make the crew’s day easier. At ATWT everybody works together, which I liked a lot. It’s night and day, and you can’t compare the situation. But the beauty of it is the storytelling, and being out on that stage is the same. I never had more fun laughing than with the crew at ATWT, and their Brooklyn accents! I am so used to California accents. Hey dudes! Taking the subway and getting on the Q train everyday was great, and for an LA actress…. well, let’s just say; I would have my regulars on the train with me. which was the best. I would wave to them and it was great! Kin Shriner (Ex-Scott, GH) said to me, “Oh, you are not going to like it because you have to travel to Brooklyn to get to the studios!” I thought, “He is so wrong.” I loved every minute of that. I waved to the Statue of Liberty every day I went by it. For three months it was like I was at summer camp, so it was cool!

MICHAEL:

Would you make another return as Audrey, now that all is said and done?

Wayne and LynnLYNN:

I would go back to ATWT for a short stint. After taping for three months, the ranch is really hard for Wayne to be the only person running it, because we have always run it together for 20 years.
When you are gathering cows, one body does not a round up make! (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

Cattle ranch and your soap life… and you see what happens when your two worlds collide!

LYNN:

The only thing is my fingernails are a problem because they are always so dirty and grungy that I have to quickly try to file and polish them for the show. You have to paint your toes, and get it together! (Laughs) You know the best is the town we live in. Raymond accepted us twenty years ago. Then the best story is about the cowboys who went to this bar in town the first week I aired on ATWT, and we only have three bars in the entire area. They told me that business had never been better! I was laughing! All the cowboys piled all the cows into the trailers as fast as they could to get to the bar in time to watch ATWT. The whole bar was lined with cowboys watching me on the soap opera.

MICHAEL:

Did what Chris Goutman and the writers at As the World Turns present to you as Audrey in the end meet your expectations?

Lynn, Trent and MaddieLYNN:

It is not exactly what I thought. The work with Trent and being his mom and a grifter was spot on and fun….despite the criticism for the age. Trent and I have similar acting styles. I think we worked as mother and son. I have met women who have had sons when they are young and they are very close and competitive, in a funny way. The part that worked for me was our personalities, and how appalled he was at some of my behavior. I only had two shows with Alexandra Chando (Maddie), who played my daughter. That was disappointing, because I really liked her the first time I met her. I think our dynamic was very interesting. That show has a big canvas with a lot of people. So I understand you are not going to give a short run character as much. Colleen and I had a ball. I would not have traded that for anything. We had catfights and stunts, and the audience enjoyed that. But for Trent, I wish we would have dealt more with what makes him tick because of who his mother is. They decided to write more capers instead of going more in-depth. Trent has always wanted Henry’s mother there, and then it opened up because Paul ends up being Henry’s brother. It’s a weird dynamic, that hopefully, they will play in the future.

MICHAEL:

It was interesting that Audrey ended up being tied in, with of all people, evil personified, James Stenbeck! How did those two end up crossing each other’s paths, for those who may have blinked an eye and missed that beat of your story?

LYNN:

They met when Audrey left Henry’s dad because he was verbally abusing her and treating her horribly. She got married really young and she ran away. Audrey runs into James Stenbeck in a gambling club and that is how she is surviving. He was a high roller, who helped her out financially, and so she was beholden to him. They had this strange parasitic relationship, where he liked the young glamour girl and she liked his money, and that is how they teamed up in New Orleans. And it turned out to be a great story to the ATWT Louisiana audience, because Trent is from Louisiana and I went to school at LSU, so that was the connection there. In the story we wanted his money and we were hoping to get his money. It was Henry and I against Paul and Colleen. It was fun.

Audrey and StenbeckMICHAEL:

I was sorta shocked to see Anthony Herrera (James) back again. How is his health?

LYNN:

He is fine. He has had such a long history there and it’s short handed and he knows everybody. Just the uncomfortableness of Henry being James’ father was funny.

MICHAEL:

What is your take away from ATWT? Would you go back to GH as Lucy Coe and finally get the closure you wanted, or another soap if it was offered?

LYNN:

I never had closure with Lucy. What has been really hard, and I did say this in other interviews this summer in New York. Audrey had not yet aired at all and people would come up to me and say, “Why on earth are you not back on GH as Lucy?” That is so hard when so many people come up and blame you for not being there. Of course, it’s just a personal thing, but for me it’s hard on the subway because I don’t know what to say. I just say, “Thank you.” It’s tricky. The closure would be to finish up Lucy and have her go back to Paris, or whatever. What whet my appetite for doing soaps again on ATWT was watching the interaction of Colleen and Trent, and the people that have been there and their camaraderie. I missed that so much because of my years with ABC. What it also did was whet my appetite for being able to do acting. I mean, you don’t stay away for six years from something you love and not eat it up. It was awesome and I would love to go do another role. I had forgotten about stepping into those kind of parts, and how much fun it is.

MICHAEL:

So, still no call from GH to reprise Lucy?

Lynn and LindstromLYNN:

Truthfully, most days I understand it and why, because the mafia was so big at GH and that Lucy was not part of it. My cronies and Lucy’s, Kin Shriner and Jon Lindstrom are not there, and a lot of people I used to work with are long gone. So that part and initially not going back did not bother me. I would like to be back there in some way now. I don’t think that is going to happen now that they are heading in new stories, and I don’t blame them. It’s still hard, though.

MICHAEL:

Fan bases had been up in arms about how disappointed they were
in recent months with GH. Had you seen that? Now, the show seems to be turning a corner with the return of popular actors and some huge surprises in store.

LYNN:

I had no idea how vitriolic it was. The thing to me is you don’t have to invest a five year story arc. You can do it for six months, but you need a story. What I am not sure of now, from being on ATWT for three months and seeing the budget limitations for all the shows, is how fast they have to work. I may be old school, and my style may not be appropriate in a sense that GH is doing the mob murder mystery things.

MICHAEL:

Did they ever work this fast back in the old days?

LYNN:

The beauty of Port Charles is we tried to move fast because we were a half hour show under Julie Carruthers (former exec prod, PC now, EP at AMC). I was not surprised by how fast things went there. Michael Park (Jack) came up to me and said, “ Just be prepared to have your running shoes on because we go so fast,” and they do. But because the way we had done Port Charles, I was up to speed when I got to ATWT. Michael is lovely and funny. Maura West (Carly) was on maternity leave the whole time I was there, but I do know they all love daytime and they want it to be the best.

Audrey and HenreyMICHAEL:

After GL was cancelled there were statements made by CBS and rumors circulating that ATWT would be the next soap on the chopping block in 2010. What was the morale like over there when this hit the press?

LYNN:

That made everybody tense…with Guiding Light being cancelled and seeing the end of that. Colleen told me they were twin shows. They were with P&G all these years, and she is concerned that people who were calling her did not know the difference between the two shows, ATWT and Guiding Light. “It was very upsetting that we were sister shows,” she told me. Colleen wanted people to give them a chance before they dig the grave. They really do have some good fun stories and good people. They have got to get people to tune in for November sweeps.

MICHAEL:

You got to work with Stuart Damon again in your career, just for a bit, though!

LYNN:

Yeah, we worked together as he was playing Ralph. He is a mafia guy, which was the irony. Stuart and I laughed so hard. Ralph is a mafia guy who dead pans these threats. He threatens Henry and Audrey and Brad and Katie. He was wonderful.

MICHAEL:

How is Stuart doing these days?

LYNN:

He is OK. He physically he has had a lot of issues. The terrible thing about all of us is; we have to be allowed to age. A couple of people from ATWT said, “Oh, my gosh, he looks so much older,” and I go, “Well, when you are in your 70’s you will, too.” You cannot freeze time and that is one thing in our culture I don’t like. I got a lot of emails saying, “Did you have a face lift?” Yeah, sure! (Laughs) No one up here in cattle town would allow me to be so self-involved to my getting a face-lift. So I said, “No.” But they think that you should if you are in the entertainment business! So to not allow Stuart to age is silly to me. It happens to the best of us. I think upkeep is good to staying healthy, and you would hope that a lot of women who are looking amazing in their 40 and 50’s can have that without the Botox and silicone lips.

Stu and LynnMICHAEL:

I could not stand it on GH when they made Alan Quartermaine a ghost! Why even kill him off?

LYNN:

There is no reason to do
it. You leave them on and
they don’t have to work
all the time, but you give the character dignity and respect, and that is all. Stuart was devastated being off GH. Truthfully, Y&R does it best with utilizing their veteran actors with Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) and that group, which kept their whole situation viable.

MICHAEL:

And prior to Audrey, you actually went up for the role of Jill Abbott as Jess Walton’s replacement while she was in heavy contract talks with Y&R. What went down with that?

LYNN:

I talked about it, if Jess Walton was going to leave. I called Tony Morina (director, Y&R) and asked him, “What is this with Jess ?” Because that is such a great part, and the irony of it was, it was really true that one the first things I ever tested for in daytime was Jill on Y&R. When Brenda Dickson (Ex- Jill) was quitting because of her contract, they brought me in and I tested. Then Brenda decided on staying, which is what happened with Jess Walton. What was sweet was Barbara Bloom (Sr VP CBS Daytime Programs) kept me on her radar. Chris Goutman and Barbara were then thinking of parts I could do. So it just gelled so nicely. I do believe things all cycle back.

MICHAEL:

Does your husband, Wayne Northrop, (Ex-Roman, DAYS) want to do more acting?

LYNN:

He would love to play Roman, of course, and it was a shame of what it became. He and Ken Corday (exec prod, DAYS) had lots of conversations about that. Ken would say, “If things would have gone differently we would have loved Roman to come back as a core character.” It was a mess. That was nobody’s fault; it was different writers and timing. I think Wayne loves daytime, too, but I don’t think he has any desire to do something unless it’s this kind of a part, like an Audrey, a three-month stint that was a blast, or something true to Roman.

MICHAEL:

Did Wayne watch you on ATWT?

Funeral Barbara AudreyLYNN:

He watched the first two days. He went out in the bunkhouse and took his sandwich. He liked the
first week! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

As we end your visit to Oakdale, looking back, what were your favorite scenes?

LYNN:

The catfights with Colleen were the best. I loved when Audrey wrestled with Barbara and threw her in the coffin on top of James. The funeral beat was snarky and they gave us all great lines.

Photo Credits: George DeSota/jpistudios

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