Question: What would a behind-the-scenes look be into the making of the longest running soap, without its leading actress and four-time Daytime Emmy winner Kim Zimmer to talk to? Answer: Like not speaking to the on-air heart and soul of it.
During my “Inside Guiding Light” feature and trip to New York, we all sat down inside the rather small and very unadorned green room at CBS studios on West 57th street. We spoke to Kim and asked her thoughts on the production module, Reva’s pregnancy and the leukemia storyline. Also, we asked her about looking ahead to 2009 and the current state of soaps, and other items at the top of our Christmas wish lists.
As many “On-Air On-Soaps” soapers know, I have a very endearing relationship with Kim. So, getting to see her in the big apple and giving her a big hug was such a treat for me! (Being a west coaster for the past 13 years, I only see her but once a year now, and that is at the Daytime Emmys.)
Make sure to also listen to the accompanying audio, because there is nothing better than hearing things in her own words, “The Gospel According to Kim,” as I lovingly call it.
Listen to the audio:
I did ask Ellen Wheeler her take on the audio situation in Peapack, in regards to what was the deal with audio boom vs. lav mics. She informed me, that it takes too much time to put them on the actors and you hear the rustling of the clothes on the actors. I wanted to go back to our conversation from our last interview together. Your current thoughts on wearing lavs?
Personally, I do hate wearing them. You could be in the middle of a great scene and something is distorting the sound. I do like the lavs, and we have a guy who does the sound in Peapack and he knows his business. I think it could work, and there are never more than two people in a scene in Peapack. It’s still a problem for me, but I think it’s gotten a little bit better with the outdoor stuff. I think these interior sets are the one’s I have trouble with, because they are claustrophobic. In the studio setting, the boom guys love me because I come from the theater. You could think of yourself as performing on stage when you had the camera as your audience. In reality, it’s more real to me than how we are doing it now. Now, it may be a two-person scene, but there could be seven other people in a small room with two holding lights, and four cameras, and you are trying to have an intimate scene. It’s very difficult. There are times you want to cross from point A to point B, but you have to go around the crew. It’s crazy. So, I like being in Peapack better then shooting here now.
How do you like the story as it stands now for Reva and the journey that she is on? She is pregnant with leukemia.
The more they pile on me the happier I am, but it’s has to be written. I forget I have leukemia, and I have not had chemo in a while. They don’t write her like she is sick; they write her great balls ahead. So I forget I have leukemia and I go full force. They have to be consistent in the writing when they force that stuff on you, and they have not been. There are times you have to remind yourself, it’s your job as an actor to remember those things.
How do you like working with Jeff Branson as the recast as your son, Shane?
It’s fantastic! I am so grateful, because I miss Tom Pelphrey (Ex-Jonathan) so much. What’s weird is that Jeff looks like my real life son Jake, all grown up. It’s uncanny, and he has the same kind of brooding looks. I feel like I am looking at
my son ten years older. They finally got one right.
Jeff is big and his voice is deep. I adore him and
he is fitting in nicely here. I was a fan of his on “AMC”.
Jill Lorie Hurst (co-head writer, “GL”) says Reva will have the baby, and I wanted to ask you will she have a healthy baby?
I did say to Jill, “I am not playing it if you are going to kill the baby.” I know the baby is born, and I believe it will be healthy. I laugh, ‘ha-ha’ because my contract is up in June. Now they have given me a menopausal baby and thrown in a little leukemia on the side. I will either die in childbirth or succumb to Leukemia. And with Edmund coming back, there will be more trauma ahead and they are covering their bases! I’m kidding. (She laughs). Speaking of that, Edmund is the reason Reva had to give up Jonathan all those years ago. Being pregnant, she is going to be freaky as long a he is around; even though he’s not trying to claim the throne or anything. We are going to have a lot to deal with together. We will have a lot of interaction, and be connected.
How do you feel about the big return coming in February, with Grant Aleksander returning as Phillip?
I am thrilled about Grant being back! I am concerned that I won’t get to interact or play with him much. I mean, there is a connection with Sarah, so who knows if that could come into it, too.
Twenty five years later, did you think you could be playing a grandmother on a soap, or having another child of Reva’s?
Oh, no! But, I never had in my contract that I wasn’t going to be a grandmother, because I wanted nothing more than to be real grandmother in real life. I am ready for that. I never thought about it. So, I like being a grandmother, and that’s what’s great about doing a soap opera, as an actor. People always ask me, “How my husband and I stayed together for so long?” I say, “Because I get to have affairs and get paid for it. It’s my job.” I get to go home to my husband who I love and adore, and I get to pretend here.
Some of the “GL” faithful are coming around to the Jeffrey and Reva pairing instead of Josh/Reva. I think it was a transition that started when Cassie and Josh were paired up. Your thoughts?
I have said in the soap magazines, that I think it was unfortunate for Nicole Forester’s interpretation of Cassie, that they did that to her. The fans immediately had a problem with her because she was with Josh. When I think of playing that story together with Laura Wright, because we had such history together as sisters, it would be so different. Again, we need to be more consistent in the writing and follow what the story is and stick with it. You have to have a beginning, middle, and an end, and not flounder around until something keeps you interested enough as a writer to stick with it. I think story on a lot of shows just get dropped before they are complete. I think that’s one of the main things that upset fans; when the story is just dropped
I posed this question to a very impassioned Ellen Wheeler: Does that concern you that the show could be cancelled at any moment?
I think the state of soaps across the board is in jeopardy. Look at Deidre Hall (Marlena, “DAYS”), Drake Hogestyn (John, “DAYS”), and Susan Lucci’s (Erica, “AMC ”) pay cut. It’s a trickle down effect. But it upsets me that they (P&G) has money, and it’s there. I think the longer people agree to pay cuts and downsizing their soaps, the more they get a way with it. That angers me, and I understand the economy is terrible. I think there is money there that they could throw our way. I have great faith that this show can recreate itself to keep going, but they have to pay attention to the quality. If it’s going to be smaller it has to be quality, and it has to be good. It’s the hardest thing for me to watch this once fantastic show, just be pissed away. It’s not by anyone doing anything wrong, but it’s just that it’s getting diluted. It goes back to the stories need to have a beginning, middle and an end.
How can Reva have a set with all her children in it, and have them come home for Christmas?
They try to do it, but I don’t know. We do have this Cross Creek living room in Peapack, even though it’s not the old Cross Creek set. I like the room and the feel of that set, and you could get the whole family in that room.Like, “As the World Turns” is always good about bringing people back to highlight a story or a big event. It almost feels they are afraid here to bring back a story or fan favorite, because the fans will scream, “We want them back!” That’s just me. That’s just my feeling. I don’t know why Marah did not come back for Christmas or Dylan is not around anymore. I am optimistic and hopeful though. We will rubble along and hopefully, have success.
You are very vocal about your feelings about the show, and passionate about it wanting it to work. Does that cause any problems for you with the cast?
People say, “Just don’t watch, if it makes me so angry.” I cannot, not watch. I am a fan of the show! I read the entire scripts and I know all the characters stories, so the actors sometimes get upset with me, and I will say something to somebody. I need to stop acting and create my own little show that I can control. (She laughs)