Over the weekend, Crystal Chappell’s fans gathered from as far away as Australia and Germany for a fun-filled afternoon with the actress, producer, writer, trailblazer, at the CC & Friends Fan Club gathering. With Chappell greeting the crowd upon her arrival, a luncheon … complete with a Q&A, and some surprises for Crystal, and the chance for each in attendance to take some pictures, get some autographs and chat with their favorite at the Universal Studios Hilton in Universal City, California.
Event organizers, publicist Leslie Penny and fan club president, Sasha Mote and CC’s extraordinary network of friends from around the globe, presented a stunned Chappell with a bike for a birthday gift, plus some heart-warming donations and contributions to several of Crystal’s projects.
After the event had finally subsided, On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Crystal to get her take on the days events, getting the scoop on her upcoming production of The Grove including the casting of daytime legend, Justin Deas (Ex-Buzz, GL), and why Jessica Leccia (Ani, Venice, Ex-Natalia, GL) and Crystal are once again playing a couple in a same-sex relationship. We then transition into what is going to go down at The Bold and the Beautiful now that Joanna Johnson has exited the series, when it just started its first same-sex storyline which features Chappell and fans welcomed Crystal back to their daytime television screens!
So without further ado, here is this week’s birthday gal, Crystal Chappell to fill us in on the latest in her fascinating and busy life … and yes, she is working on her memoir, too! Then after the interview, check out our very special photo gallery of CC & Friends Fan Event!
Your fans really gave you some pretty awesome gifts today in honor of your birthday, (which is actually this Saturday, August 4th) and … moved you to tears!
CRYSTAL: They have always been very extremely generous. They have donated thousands of dollars to the Hetrick-Martin Institute and they gave me another one today, and a donation to help sponsor, The Grove. I have been saying I wanted a bicycle! And you see, I just wanted something to go around town in. I sure as hell will go around town with this! It’s got a bell and a basket. I was joking with my publicist, Leslie Penny, when I said, “I want a cruiser bike, but I want a basket, and I want to go to the store and to be able to put something in it.” I mean, I was joking, but I did think this was the perfect gift today. You have these weird thoughts in your head of the thing you would like to have, but that you wouldn’t necessarily go out and get for yourself, and then have it show up on your birthday, is just wonderful.
You have such lovely fans, and to donate to you this way in all of your philanthropic efforts, as well as your creative projects and endeavors especially in this hard hit economy, is truly amazing.
CRYSTAL: They have always been that way. They are the most amazing group of people. They take care of each other and it’s more than just being kind and supportive towards me. They are a community and I am very proud of who they are. So I am the lucky one, really.
The Grove is about to go into production! You had the table read. So when are you shooting?
CRYSTAL: We go into a full production August 25th through the 29th and we will be shooting around in and around Los Angeles.
I have been hearing that the script and the feel of The Grove is very Aaron Sorkin-esque. Sorkin is known to TV fans for the West Wing and the new hit series, the Newsroom, among countless others.
CRYSTAL: The script is very “heady” as one person alluded too, but the dialog kind of pops along and it has a much faster pace. It is reminiscent of an Aaron Sorkin show with that light, breezy, popping dialog. However, The Grove takes place in a small town and has a small town vibe to it.
So the Proposition 8 gay marriage ban issue is a theme in the series? Nico, your character is already married, to Ivy, Jessica Leccia’s character, right?
CRYSTAL: They got married back in the time when couple’s could. So they got married, but they never had the wedding, because they were rushed to make it happen and there was a sense of urgency to get this done. They are not the wealthiest folks. So they have to go back to work. So the pilot is the wedding, and yes, there are other parts of story going on as well.
Six-time Daytime Emmy winning actor, Justin Deas is in the cast. He is the best of the best!
CRYSTAL: I could not agree with you more! I asked Jordan Clarke (Ex-Billy, GL, The Colonel, Venice) to get him on the phone with me and Justin called me. And he was like, “This is great!” And I said, “Well, I wrote this show for you!” He said, “Well you might want to re-think that.” And I said, “I wrote this with you in mind.” Look, I think he is one of the most brilliant actors anywhere and he can do anything. You need actors like Justin on the set who can be creative and just fly with it, and scare the shit out of other actors, like myself! (Laughs) I learned so much from working with the cast of Guiding Light, and Justin was one of those people. He just made you pay attention and you had to listen to him, and listen to his acting. So I was like OK this is a great part for him. It’s interesting, if you don’t know Justin and Jordan Clarke’s work, it’s easier to write that way. I talked to my writer and I would say, “Watch! These men are going to fill this in.” They are the anchors of the show. They are the patriarchs of the two families. I said, “Don’t worry about filling in the blanks, because they will do it.” I can’t wait. The Grove has a certain rhythmic quality to it that will suit them very well.
So you are starting with making a pilot episode of The Grove. What are your plans for it after that?
CRYSTAL: I am going to try to pitch the show and take it around. I want to have it up on the web so people can see it. I am not necessarily rolling it out as a web series. I want to try to get it out there without subscription. We are changing the model a little bit, and we are going to do fan sponsorship. It’s a little different, but right now it’s working. And the great thing is, the team that I have working with me is the team I have put together after three seasons of Venice. So it’s nice. It’s a great team. They always say, “We see what you are doing, and what you are trying to do. We like the quality of the work that you are doing and we want to be a part of it.” I am grateful as well. And they have their own projects that they are doing and I am like, “Well, what can I do for you?” We are all out there trying to make something happen.
Did you decide to make another lesbian relationship the focal point of the series, because of the audience and following you have built with the LGBT community, and you did not want to veer from that ingredient, even though you could have changed it up this time?
CRYSTAL: Yeah, it came out of not being sure if I could continue Venice, but Nico and Ivy are different couple. They are interesting people to me. Nico is a mechanic, but she comes from a small town and an Irish family, where whiskey at noon is perfectly OK. Things are very simple the way she sees things. Ivy is a Latina and a baker. She has more traditional ideas about things. But they are married and have been for several years. Nico has a daughter, and so they are already established and happy. And the thing about the pilot is that these two women are celebrating their love and planning for a family, or at least Ivy is, but Nico is not sure what she wants to do. They have things to go through, but they are happy, and for them it’s a celebration. For the show as a whole, you really get to see the different families.
I hear there is lots of humor in The Grove!
CRYSTAL: Yes, there is humor in it and lots of issues. I am from an Irish family were we argue brutally about something or a subject, and then in about an hour, it’s like, “OK. Now let’s go out and play some ball or let’s have a beer!” It’s a very ebb and flow wild ride, and so that is what The Grove is about.
Now over at The Bold and the Beautiful, your scene partner, Joanna Johnson (Karen) has left the building to be a producer on the new series, Emily Owens M.D starring Meryl Streep’s daughter, Mamie Gummer! That series will debut this fall on the CW. It was a big moment for Joanna to come out as a lesbian publicly several months ago, and so many were looking forward to seeing you and Joanna’s on-screen relationship play out.
CRYSTAL: Joanna is gone for now and I will miss her, although we have been emailing each other. I am constantly learning as long as I have been doing Venice and before that Otalia on Guiding Light. I continue to hear stories about people that I would never perceive as having an issue coming out to their family or the public. There is still so much for me to learn and to teach, but I so admire her courage and what she said, “It was harder being outed as a 50 year old than a lesbian” And, I completely understand! (Laughs) Say anything you want about me, but let’s not mention any numbers, shall we? (Laughs) I admire Joanna and I have been taught so many things along the way. She was very funny about doing our kiss on camera. She was nervous. She said, “I am used to kissing guys on camera. How are you?” I said, “I’m fabulous. Go ahead!” (Laughs) I really admire that she did that and the story still exists. So it’s not something that is being ditched. Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B would never do that! Joanna told me she would be more than willing to come back and play the story out when her schedule permits.
Have you been reassured by B&B that they will write story for you sans Joanna?
CRYSTAL: I have some shows that are coming up, and I have been told there is story coming. Beyond that, I don’t know.
On B&B, Linsey Godfrey plays Caroline, Danielle and Karen’s daughter. How is she to work with? You must like her, because she is in the cast of The Grove too!
CRYSTAL: She is dream and very focused, and a very sweet person. She has lived quite a life and fought her own battles. So, I really like her. I like what I know about her. She is very hard working person. When I asked her to be a part of The Grove, she was so gracious.
I interviewed The Young and the Restless’ Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) recently about her memoir, Not Young Still Restless. She mentioned you as one of her biggest supporters and cheerleaders; especially on the night she finally won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She told me you are one of the finest actresses out there! What would you say to that?
CRYSTAL: First of all, Jeanne Cooper an idol of mine. Those are big words coming from her. Knowing that she said that, I am going to be floating around the daytime world for a little while with that!
Check out the Photo Gallery below from this weekend’s CC & Friends Fan Gathering! Then let us know what you think of the plans for The Grove?