So when does Carly Corinthos Jacks played by Daytime Emmy winner, Laura Wright not have her plate full on General Hospital? Now she is canoodling with Johnny Zacchara (Brandon Barash), having some verbal sparring and fireworks with Todd Manning (Roger Howarth), then there is always Sonny (Maurice Benard) who Carly shares children with and always turns to when her love life combusts, and then there is the upcoming return of Jasper Jacks (Ingo Rademacher), and the unresolved issues of their messed-up marriage!
Whether playing the most emotional storyline one could imagine, or playing romance with an edge, Laura Wright plays each and every scene she is in to the hilt and with such finesse! On-Air On-Soaps had the opportunity to sit down with Wright at the recent ABC Summer Press Tour TCA Cocktail Party, where the press and the stars mingled and celebrated the upcoming fall television season.
Laura shared her thoughts on; if she feels ABC is now firmly behind their lone network soap after its cancellation rumors, the ushering in of characters from Llanview to Port Charles, and her recent night at the Daytime Emmys. Later, Laura gives us a bit of sneak peak as to what may be coming next for Carly. Plus, how it is behind-the-scenes at GH under the guidance of new EP Frank Valentini, and her thoughts on the news of her former boss, Jill Farren Phelps and her new gig at The Young and the Restless! And now, our conversation with Laura!
From the looks of everything, from having GH participate in the ABC Summer Press Tour TCA Panel and having the cast at the After-Party, and other things we hear are in the works, it looks like the network is fully behind General Hospital at this juncture. Do you feel that as one of the mainstays of the series?
LAURA: We really feel the support on a big scale. We have never really had this in this way. The network at this point wants to make sure that we all know that we are all one big family. It’s a whole new team and while you may have soaps fans who are very leery, which I understand, or that don’t want to support the new daytime line-up, there is a new team in charge. And it truly does feel like they are here to support us. I can’t bring back All My Children and One Life to Live and I wish I could give every single person a hug that misses those characters so much. I really understand. But I am super grateful that we are here at the panels. I have gone to the TCA After-Party many times. Brian Frons (Ex -Sr. VP. ABC Daytime) would always say, “Hey, wanna come?” He would invite five of us. I would bring my daughter, because all the Disney Kids would always be here. It was always great, but never were we asked to be on a panel. I can tell you it was made-sure of this time. Everybody wanted GH to have a panel and the panel went so well. It has been talked about for days. No one has ever talked to me here on the red carpet, and this time they were like, “Oh my God. General Hospital! You are feeling the support, how does it feel?” This is from people who never would have cared to talk to me!
ABC needed to do this badly! General Hospital needed to be counted and promoted like every other existing or new show in their lineup!
LAURA: If you are going to have us on your line-up, you have to take care of us. We are now having promos during the daytime line-up. That did not happen before. They are doing it. From what I understand we have a huge major marketing photo shoot that we are going to shoot in a couple of months. It feels different and Frank Valentini feels different. Having one of the ABC reps say, ‘They are 100% behind General Hospital,” which I read on your website, that is a big deal! We have never had anyone say that before and mean it! (Laughs)
You have been very vocal that Brian Frons and Jill Farren Phelps (Ex-EP, GH) were part of your success story at GH. Now Jill is at Y&R! What did you think of that announcement?
LAURA: How great for Jill, but how great for the cast and the crew of Y&R! Like I said at my acceptance speech at last year’s Daytime Emmys, when she showed the love, I moved cross country to this show. I think she is a great executive producer. Jill is great on so many levels. She is a great teacher for anyone who is in the producing profession. She allows them to spread their wings and grow. I think she is fantastic.
Jill will be spearheading the look and feel of Genoa City now after being at the helm of GH for so many years and coming off her Emmy win. It will be interesting to see what the tone of the new episodes will be like on Y&R, in contrast to how GH is now.
LAURA: I am just as happy and excited and hopeful for The Young and the Restless as I am for The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of our Lives. We are all a soap family now. Nobody wants to see anymore shows go. These are people that I love and adore who have jobs. I don’t want to see actors lose jobs. I really love what we do. I am happy for anyone to do well. You know, Y&R holds the title. I would love to bump them down a few notches, and they would like to bump us down a bit too. But that is all fun competition. Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) and Christian LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R) are my buds. I love those guys so much. I want all the shows to stay on the air!
You had been on Guiding Light and you saw that show got canceled, even though you were not with it at the end of its historic run. However was there a moment, were you thought last year, GH was going down too?
LAURA: The only thing that I could not believe about it was that ABC would be a network without a soap opera. And we are talking about General Hospital! I don’t mean to take anything away from the other shows. And on the same token, I cannot believe that All My Children is gone, and One Life to Live. I grew up watching the Buchanan cowboys! But I did not feel it was going to happen to GH. I felt Guiding Light was going to be canceled, and God bless them for doing everything they could. I will not judge any producer or anyone on that show. Until you are in that position, it’s like the President of the United States … until you walk in that man shoes, or in this case until you walk in Ellen Wheeler’s shoes. I can tell you I did not work for her when it got close to the end, but when I did work for her she was really amazing and kind to me. Ellen really struggled with me leaving and once the decision was made, she called me late at night. She said, “Pour yourself a glass of wine. Can we talk as girlfriends? I am so excited for you!” So as a boss, she had to play hardball with me and beg me, if I was going to stay with GL or not. But once the decision was made she was happy for me. I did not feel that death was looming at GH like I did when I was on Guiding Light.
How was Daytime Emmy night for you this year? We couldn’t have our two-peat in the Outstanding Lead Actress category.
LAURA: We couldn’t … but I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel my material in a way that I was not in love with it. But it’s OK; I just really, really wanted to be nominated! (Laughs) I wanted to go through the process of that, but it just felt different.
It was different, I agree … because last year I knew you were going to win! (Laughs)
LAURA: I didn’t know that was going to happen until the minute they called my name. It’s so funny because no one talks! No one came up to me who judged my category from GH. So I thought, “Oh God. It must be bad.” But my girlfriend said, “But you didn’t say anything to anybody else!” And I was like, “You know, you’re right!” You don’t want to blow it and go, “Oh. It’s so yours”, and then it doesn’t happen. Then when I got to Las Vegas, Terri Conn (Ex-OLTL and ATWT) was like, “I loved your reel.” Other people also said that to me as well. So I picked that year exactly the opposite of what I was going to pick, because clearly I was doing a bad job at picking for years before that. (Laughs)
Do you like where Carly is headed now? I want you to have something fantastic to sink your teeth into, and I hear some big things are coming down the pike now. It has now been announced that Ingo Rademacher is returning as Jax, which means there has to be some very unresolved things that are going to come up! However, I want it to be about something other than which man she is sleeping with!
LAURA: Well, Carly doesn’t really sleep with different men, which is interesting. Frank does not want Carly to be seen in that light, which I love. He wants it to mean something if it does, and he also wants it to be that if she is going to do it, and it is for the wrong reasons, there will then be repercussions because of the wrong reasons. I could not be happier. I just started taping some material and I am in “Carly Heaven”! A group of people were visiting us at ABC, and they told Frank Valentini, “Carly should fight over Johnny against so and so.” Frank said, “Carly will never fight for another man. They are all going to fight for her. I have three in a week or two that are going to be fighting for her!” So that is why it’s “Carly Heaven”! (Laughs) It’s great. I am super-excited and it’s exactly how it should be as far as I am concerned. I work very hard. I love what I do. There is not a bigger cheerleader for the show on the set and off. Give me everything and I will kick-ass, but I do like to share! (Laughs)
How do you separate Carly from Laura after a long draining emotional day of shooting?
LAURA: It’s hard when I have some very emotional stuff to do. When I am done and I am heading home, I sometimes say to myself, “I just want to crawl underneath the covers.”
Roger Howarth (Todd) and you together are amazing, hot, fun, delicious, shall I go on?
LAURA: Roger and I have some fantastic stuff together. I can not stop laughing with him! We were starting a scene and they yelled, “… and action!” And then they go, “We have to start again!” I have to say to Roger, “Stop making me laugh.” He is hilarious! And we do come up with a lot of fun things to do. All that pinky-swearing, I came up with that, and all the stuff where he was throwing the bottles, he came up with that. So we ask, “Can we add these things?” And Frank is like, “Go for it!”
I think Ron Carlivati (GH, head writer) and Frank Valentini sat there plotting (Laughs) when they knew they were coming over to GH. I believe they thought, “Let’s try pairing Laura with Roger!”
LAURA: That is funny! Someone put on Twitter; “Carly Jacks is going to be Carly Manning in about six months.” I don’t see that happening, I really don’t, because she is still married first of all. We had scene where we are talking about it and I say, “Yeah, actually I am still married!” And he is like, “What?” And I am like, “Well, who needs to rush things!” It’s a funny dynamic and it’s so different than the Carly/Johnny relationship. I have to give props to Roger. Sometimes we discover things in dress rehearsal that don’t pop up when we tape, and we are still figuring each other out too. But I love working with him.
So you see, it’s a good thing that some of the OLTL people came over to GH!
LAURA: I am the person who says, bring whoever over! Absolutely! If the shoe was on the other foot and GH were canceled, how great would it be for the actors and the fans to see their favorites? It’s easy to pooh-pooh it. However, from a human aspect it’s great for people to have jobs. The former OLTL stars are now my co-stars. They are now on my team. They are like family now. I am not going to begrudge anyone for having work. I understand how people are saying; “Well I don’t see some of my GH people because the OLTL people are working.” These people are all under contract and pulling in a paycheck and that is good for them and for the show.
The pace of the show is so much faster, and now it’s no longer “The Sonny Show”. We are seeing more characters mix it up on the canvas at one time!
LAURA: You see more of everyone without it being too odd. It’s not the Sonny/Jason/Carly show which is really good. I get to go home and see my kids more now. Then as the audience member you want to see Carly and not have her shoved down your throat, or being in every storyline where you are going, “Are you kidding me? Why is she in this?” (Laughs)
So soapers, what do you think about the on-screen chemistry between Todd and Carly? Would you be rooting for them to get-together? Or, are you digging Johnny/Carly? And what about Jax? Let us know your thoughts on the men in Carly’s life, and what Laura had to say about the support she and the cast feel from ABC for GH!