Ah, remember the good old days of the soaps? When General Hospital, about to be kicked-to-the curb by the network, turned itself around after bringing in take-no-prisoners executive producer Gloria Monty to turn the tide? And what followed was the true hey day of daytime dramas in the 80’s?
For a slice of life behind-the-scenes look into that time and that unique world, General Hospital’s Kimberly McCullough (Robin) has been working on a project that she has written entitled Hey Day. It centers around a naïve ingénue who is thrust into the debaucherous on-screen/off-screen world of the daytime series, “Doctors of Romance.” Recently, Kimberly enlisted an A-list stellar cast of notable soap names to perform in front of a live audience for an intimate reading of her script! Participating in the cast were several GH stars past and present including: Tyler Christopher (who was also the producer of the event), Jason Thompson, Linda Elena Tovar, Lexi Ainsworth, Nicolas Bechtel, Brooklyn Rae Silzer, Jane Elliot, Ian Buchanan, Ronnie Marmo, Minae Noji, plus former One Life to Live star, Bree Williamson, among others!
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Kimberly to get the lowdown for her hopes for Hey Day, who might the characters in be inspired by in real life, the roles that some of your favorite soap stars played in the reading, and how you can help spread the word on the project! Later, we delve into some GH and what Kimberly thought of Robin latest message to Patrick (Jason Thompson) and Anna (Finola Hughes) where she tells them she is in Paris getting herself together! However, is a return in the works? Has Kimberly caught recent episodes featuring Samtrick? Find out in this intriguing chat with one of the most creative and busiest gals in the business!
What is your hope for Hey Day? Where do you want to ultimately see the project end up?
KIMBERLY: My dream/my plan is to shoot a pilot and sell it based on that. I would love to be on Amazon Prime or Netflix, or some kind of avenue like that. I believe it will have a wider audience than just soap fans, but I also do believe soap fans will support this meaning, that if it was on one of those platforms, you could binge watch. I think that is what a lot of soap fans have been doing, and how the whole genre has sort of matured.
How do you think the reading of Hey Day went which featured many GH favorites went?
KIMBERLY: I think the reading went very well. It was a gracious audience because there were a lot of soap fans there, but also there were critical eyes there, mainly people I trust in the industry. I got some good feedback which is kind of helping me shape what I want that pilot to be. It was really fun, and the overall feeling I came away with was that I was so grateful that I have so many talented people in my life.
That is what I thought was fabulous, actually. When Kimberly is involved and reaches out to those in the business, or actors to be a part of something, they show up, and truly want to participate. I have seen this with everything you have been part of it, which is a great testament to you.
KIMBERLY: It’s weird! You have to think about what your strengths are as a person, and also as a director, or whatever you do as your career. One of the things I have always been good at is getting people to do things! (Laughs) I remember when I was in High School. We would have these dances. I would convince people that I could do the choreography routine, and we would perform it as a dance, and they would do just do it. So, a long time ago I stopped questioning it and went “This is what I am supposed to do. A director had some sort of vision, and then you gather people to make it come to fruition. It was so cool to see it for Hey Day, and to have the support of people I love, and that are talented. There was also that thing in my mind of … was the writing really that good … or is it that Jane Elliot (Tracy, GH) is that fantastic as an actress? I have to think that both were coming together to make something great, but I also thought that people in the audience were laughing, and that is something you can’t fake. It did give me confidence.
What would you say is the main theme of Hey Day that you want to convey?
KIMBERLY: The theme is the dynamic between overindulgence, which was essentially the 80’s, and almost innocence. Nobody was doing things it to show off, or doing it for anybody else’s benefit. That was the culture of the time, and we were literally doing everything behind closed doors, whereas nowadays people want you to know every second of their indulgence! I mean, down to taking a picture of the chocolate cake I am eating right now! (Laughs) The main girl in Hey Day is Angel, which is really kind of me, and is our entrance into that world. She is a young ingénue and she is not from Los Angeles. She has no idea what she is getting herself into. From the very beginning of someone getting a job, to the glamor and glitz of Hollywood and fame, and what that does do a person when they are developing their own personality and still a young person, those are all a part of the theme. I want to bring the topic of AIDS into the story too, so there will be some real 80’s elements to it. I am also excited to get to do the wardrobe for Hey Day and get 80’s clothing. I can’t wait!
Speaking of a young star being overwhelmed, were you overwhelmed since you had celebrity so young in life given your notoriety as Robin on General Hospital?
KIMBERLY: No, but that is because I never got into drugs, or dating famous people. Although my first boyfriend, Freddie Prinz Jr, wasn’t famous when we first together, but he became famous through our relationship. I did feel overwhelmed when we broke up and the whole world new about it. I felt exposed, and it was sad for me, and I was like only 20 years old at the time. It was my first love, and we had broken up, and it seemed like everyone was talking about it. I would walk into the grocery store and see his face on the cover of STAR Magazine. As far as the work itself and fame, it always seemed normal to me, because I started so young, but I think it was for me about learning how to keep my personal and private life separate, and that was my first really good lesson in all of that.
When the script was being performed, it also sounded like a bit of Angel’s story was the Genie Francis (Laura, GH) story? Is it?
KIMBERLY: It’s all kinds of stories put together. That is what it so great about it – if you are a fan of the soaps – you can kind of pick up on the nuances. There is a character loosely based on Gloria Monty. However, I put my own spin on it for the sake of this story. It’s not the Genie Francis story, nor the Kimberly McCullough story. It’s just bits and pieces of things from what I heard growing up, and me now making my own little world out of it.
How did Tyler Christopher (Nikolas, GH) come into the picture to be the producer for the reading?
KIMBERLY: He read the script a few years ago and he really liked it. He has been telling he for a long time he would like to help me with this any way he can. Tyler also has a lot of other projects going on besides being an actor. He has some experiencing in the producing realm. Tyler has owned a theatre for many years, so when I was going to do the reading, I didn’t know where to start. Tyler was my go-to in that situation and seemed perfect.
How can fans get behind this?
KIMBERLY: I think what could really help, and I think it’s already in place is that – people love to talk about the hey day of General Hospital, or All My Children or One Life to Live, or The Young and the Restless, etc. And for me to sell this, I would have to convince whoever I am selling it to that there is an audience. So, a really simple way of doing this is – if you are thinking about some old scene, or a memory, or a picture, and you are posting on social media, you can use the hash tag #heyday and then it’s easier to show that there is interest and an audience. This is not only about GH and in the show actually, one of my other storylines is like a spy storyline, where one of my characters falls in love with a character from another soap, and then that character ends up spying and stealing stories! Then of course, each show is nominated for the Emmy. It culminates where they all find out that they have been spying and this whole thing ensues. I do intend on bringing in other characters from other soaps, but it won’t be called, “The Young and the Restless”, it will be called “The Pubescent and the Anxious” (Laughs)
Lexi Ainsworth (Ex-Kristina, GH) is your go-to girl it seems in your projects. She was also featured in your short film, Nice Guys Finish Last. In Hey Day, she played the lead character Angel in the reading.
KIMBERLY: Yes, she played me, basically as a young girl. I just love her. Lexi is so talented, and so real, and grounded, when she is acting, which I like.. I have always had this fantasy of being a Paul Thomas Anderson type, where it’s kind of like a mini-movie company using the same actors in different roles in different projects. I am trying to build that, and I want to use Minae Noji (Ex-Kelly, GH and GH: Night Shift), who was funny in Hey Day, in everything I do!
Jason Thompson (Patrick, GH) was hilarious as Spencer Storm in the reading! He has this quite unusual speaking voice! (Laughs)
KIMBERLY: He is so crazy! (Laughs) I just told Jason to have fun, and so I knew he was going to use that voice, but the cool thing is; all of those people who were there, they are dying to do something else, because when you are an “actor” it’s fun to play different characters, especially soap actors. Any actor that is on a series are dying to do an independent film on their two month hiatus! As for Jason, I told him to go for it. Jason is funny, and he was hilarious! He doesn’t always want to have to play the hot guy. I am sure he would like to play the creep, or the weirdo, or a hillbilly, and I am sure he want to try different things. The other component of this is – back in the day we used to share the hair and make-up room with the local ABC news team. Jason’s part of Spencer Storm is the weather guy … and he literally, like a weather guy would, breezes in and out. He is the cameo guy. He is KABC’s weathermen Dallas Raines, basically. (Laughs)
Your good friend and OLTL favorite Bree Williamson (Ex-Jessica) played Tammy the bitchy party gal of the cast in Hey Day! Do you see this character evolving?
KIMBERLY: I hope the character of Tammy will be the biggest surprise to people, and I won’t name names, but I have come across a few actresses who are frustrated because they are constantly judged on their looks, and so they can’t help that they are beautiful, but they are also really smart. So, there is this struggle about capitalizing on your looks, and also really wanting to be respected for being intelligent. Tammy had that going on. She will act like the dumb girl, because that is what people expect from her, but she is really manipulating people, because she is bored out of her mind. She is really this girl that should be in law school or something like that. She has some issues, but she is the one that I really want to like clean up and have her get her act together. In the story, she would leave the soap pretty soon, and become a big movie star after that. This would be my hope for Tammy.
Nicolas Bechtel (Spencer, GH) and Brooklyn Rae Silzer (Emma, GH) made little cameos, too! They would come out on stage, and then go backstage, and then come back out on stage again. I assume to keep their ears from burning and hearing some of the dialog?
KIMBERLY: I had contemplated not having them in it at all, but I thought it was really important to show the generations and the passing of the baton. And honestly, Scott Michael David (Nicolas’ character) is my favorite character, because he is also kind of me! I wanted them to be in the reading, but I am super-protective of children and limiting their access to racy adult content as much as I possibly can. So, I talked to their parents, and I said, “I’m sorry. You can’t watch the reading … you need to stay backstage with the kids.” I marked their scripts when they were supposed to come out on stage. Then, I told the parents when they were off stage to distract them so they don’t hear what was being said on-stage, and then tell them to come back out when it’s their turn! (Laughs)
Nicolas was so funny!
KIMBERLY: He was making this grand entrance every single time, which was hilarious and so cute!
Then there was the character of Randy, played by Tyler Christopher, who in the story was bisexual?
KIMBERLY: He is bisexual, before people were even talking about people being bisexual, because back then in the 80’s, it was either you were gay, or you were straight. He is in a really difficult position, because he is the heartthrob of the soap, and he is having sex with men and women, and he doesn’t want anybody to find out about it, because it could jeopardize his status. I think that it’s true nowadays too! I suppose it’s a little less difficult, but think about how hard it must be to hide who you are all of the time? The other aspect of it is… it not only affects his status as a soap star, but this character also wants to be a rock star. He is basically like the rock guys … Rick Springfield, Jack Wagner and John Stamos, all rolled into one.
Linda Elena Tovar (Rosalie, GH) played Angel’s stage mom. What can you tell us about how you intend this character to be?
KIMBERLY: I didn’t want her to be a typical stage mom, because I feel like we have seen that so much – someone who uses their kid. I don’t want to see that, and that is really depressing to me. So, what I wanted to do with her is make her more naïve and more excited to be in Hollywood, and also she is able to start over. She is a single mom, and she is attracted to bad boys, and so she ends up having an affair with a Hollywood bad boy! (Laughs)
When you shoot the pilot, will you use these soap stars, or will you bring in some other actors from primetime? How would you cast it to try to sell it? Don’t you unfortunately find it more challenging to sell something when there is a “Daytime” stigma attached to it?
KIMBERLY: I cast that reading for the purposes of the reading. I didn’t cast it for the purpose of shooting the show. One really good example is the lead character Angel. She has to be Latina. She has to speak Spanish. I would like to be able to mix it up, and I don’t know what it is about this business, but people like to pigeon-hole other people. I like the idea of seeing someone like Jason Thompson – where we are used to seeing him being all sexy man – and then seeing him play this dork. (Laughs) I think people are interested in seeing that, too! In terms of the casting, I think it has to be a mixture, and also ultimately who is best for the role.
People commented to you that they loved the character of Sebastian as played by Ian Buchanan (Duke, GH). Why did they say they were enamored the character after the reading?
KIMBERLY: They said because he was such a jerk. (Laughs) Sebastian is like the guy who used to be the star of the show. He is aging out, and he is a drunk. Sebastian thought he would become this movie star. So the character is coming to terms with that this is the rest of his life, and letting go of his dream. What I wanted to do with him, which is just like what happened when Elizabeth Taylor came to GH, is that the show is becoming so big that it is now attracting movie stars to come on to it. There is someone like that who comes on to the show and they do an episode, and then they fall in love, and then he starts dating a movie star!
In other news, you are set to direct an upcoming episode of Disney Channel’s K.C. Undercover starring Zendaya!
KIMBERLY: Yes. I am shooting the episode in December, and I am not sure when it airs. Funnily enough, the premise of K.C. Undercover is like Robin and her parents!
Let’s talk GH a bit! That last scene where Robin claims she is in Paris (but she is being forced against her will to stay away from her family by Helena Cassadine), she is skyping with Patrick (Jason Thompson) and Anna (Finola Hughes) to tell them she is not returning home. What did you think of that … and how the show wrote her off the canvas this time? Viewers were probably ready to toss something at the TV after this one! (Laughs)
KIMBERLY: I think given the situation there is not much more you can do, except having Robin being manipulated into leaving her family. I mean, really you could just kill her, I suppose. But, you can’t just kill her again, or you could recast me. I really don’t want either one of those things to happen. For me personally, the scenes were hard. I was looking at a blank screen and someone was reading the lines to me off of the side. I just wish I was dressed in something other than scrubs. (Laughs) What I did like with that scenario is that they set it up so I can come back!
You will be back on GH sometime in the not too distant future?
KIMBERLY: I will be back … but I just can’t say when.
What do you think of the on-screen chemistry between Kelly Monaco and Jason Thompson as Sam and Patrick? I know you catch the show. So, do you believe Sam is a true viable love interest for Dr. Drake?
KIMBERLY: I have only seen a couple of scenes with Patrick and Sam, but I think they are pretty good. I like them together. I also wanted Patrick to be with Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst), because I thought that Patrick and Liz had great chemistry together. I don’t know why that never happened.
In closing, what are your next steps for Hey Day?
KIMBERLY: I am re-writing it. What I came away with after the reading was more confidence in the characters I created, meaning I want to flesh them out more, and kind of slow it down a bit. Now I am rewriting it with that knowledge and confidence, and then I am going to figure out a way to shoot it. I will be directing it. But I also have to say; my long term goal is to be a showrunner and hire my friends to direct different episodes. I would want to direct the first three or four episodes, but then I would like to bring in different directors with different styles. So, there is a lot to be done, but I am truly excited about it.
So soap fans, what do you think of Kimberly’s project Hey Day? Is it something you would like to see become a series? Are you intrigued by the different characters involved in the story? Who would you like to see in the cast when Kimberly shoots the pilot? What #heyday moment from the soaps strikes a memory for you? And on the GH front, when do you hope Robin returns? Are you rooting now for Samtrick? What did you think of Kimberly’s comments on her scene where she tells Anna and Patrick she has decided to stay in Paris, when we all know Helena (Constance Towers) is pulling the strings? Share your thoughts to all below!