You may have recently noticed on The Soap Dishes the Cookbook website some clips that they call “bootleg” behind-the-scenes video interviews. Those little ditty’s were shot by the Soap Dishes’ crew with yours truly from On-Air On-Soaps as their exclusive interviewer at the recent EWTS Desi Geestman Foundation event. It was also there I had the opportunity to speak with many of the daytime star attendees from General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless, and not just about cooking, but what is cookin’ with their current storylines and characters. So I bring you some revealing soap dish, and Soap Dishes, my fellow soapers.
First up, the crew of General Hospital starting with Steve Burton (Jason Morgan), who along with Derk Cheetwood (Max) are the brain trusts of the Soap Dish the Cookbook concept. But before we got into that, Steve and I talked Jason and Brenda… or as I like to call them Jasenda, or as Steve Burton likes to call them, Brason! Burton informed me that Brason could, operative word, could, be a couple! “I would not go that far yet, but I would not put it past him doing anything. Vanessa is there for a year, so we will see what happens. Brenda is living with Jason and so is Spinelli. It has been good.” With all the big names and big-hyped storylines from Bob Guza and company over the last year or so, Burton reveals how he sees the state of GH. “I think we are in a great place going back to the first time Franco came on the show, and we have had some good momentum. Now Vanessa is back after 29 years of promising to come back. (Laughs) I think we are in a good space and we are having a good time at work and that usually translates that the audience is enjoying it.” Ok, but I had to ask, what did Steve think of the whole Michael asking Jason to get him a hooker to have sex with, which was such a turn-off for viewers, and sent a weird message to teenagers everywhere! Steve replied earnestly, “I get it. I had the same reaction as everybody did when I heard about it. I was like, wait a minute. This isn’t right. This is weird. And for my character, I feel I would not set something like that up, so I kind of didn’t. But, if we are looking at it, we don’t know what happened to Michael in prison first and foremost.” Speaking of the big prison secret of Michael Corinthos, does Burton truly know what went down in Pentonville? “No, Jason does not know other than he knows something happened, and that when Michael is ready to talk about it he will be there for him. The thing is this kid is damaged and has anger issues. It just does not make a lot of sense for him and his story that he flipped out on this girl who liked him. It’s like, how about a psychiatrist first? Can we go that route instead of a prostitute named, Candy? Teenagers should not go that route by any means, but in the storyline the actress that played Candy was fantastic and she and Chad Duell (Michael) were good together.” Speaking of teenagers, and being a dad himself, Burton took a moment to share his views on the recent rash of teen suicides via bullying that many other daytime actors have voiced their displeasure of. “Let’s be honest. We all went to schools and there is peer pressure going around. We know that stuff happens, and it’s horrible. It’s not the main reason I home school my children, but as a kid, that way you don’t have to succumb to those pressures of being a kid and being in a situation where you have to do something, or conversely, feeling like an outcast. It is a horrible feeling.”
So with a heavy November sweeps schedule that has Burton taping GH five days a week, his cookbook about to launch over the holidays, and his band, Port Chuck featuring GH stars, Scott Reeves, Brandon Barash and Bradford Anderson, it is amazing this guy has time even for a “quickie” interview! But Steve told me there are more Port Chuck dates planned for 2011. “We are starting to look tentatively at a week of dates in April 2011. We will be heading out starting on the east coast and on to the Midwest.” Many were surprised it seems that Steve raps with the band. He elaborated, “In the band, I rap and sing. My rap style is more like Linkin Park meets Kid Rock. I have always listened to Rap growing up and classical music. My parents are pretty young, and so we would listen to The Doors, The Beatles, The Doobie Brothers, and all that stuff. I love Rock and Roll and Rap, and mixed it together with Port Chuck!”
You may have seen a sliver of my video chat with Steve about his recipe in the new Soap Dish cookbook, which is… Steak Tacos! And why is Steak Tacos his delicacy of choice? “Because… I had nothing else to cook,” says Burton. “My wife was out of the house one night and I had nothing else to do. It was me and my brother-in-law and we had nothing else to eat. We had some filet mignon left over and it started from there, so now I make them. My one dish baby! I grew up in the 80’s and it was microwave everything. It’s throw everything in there you can and some tin foil.” (Laughs) But you know, this book is a great gift for soap fans. The pictures are beautiful, and it is a wonderful holiday book and this turned out even better than I ever envisioned, seriously. The cool thing about it is Christian LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R) is in the book, and a lot of people did photo shoots where the stories meant something to them personally. For Christian since his whole family is down in New Orleans, we flew him back there to his family property. The main thing for us was we wanted to do something more in-depth like a Vanity Fair meets cookbook story, and something that gave a kind of peek behind the curtain, and give insight of the actors who were involved.”
GH’s Laura Wright (Carly) and I had a few moments to discuss how on earth is Carly going to deal with her adversary, the cringe-worthy Brenda? Laura filled me in! “It is great having Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo (Brenda) back and it is so much fun. It’s really nice to have a female to work with, because I did not get the chance to work with Sarah Brown (Ex-Claudia, GH, now Aggie, B&B) as much as I would have liked to. So now to have a female who you know personally, and can trust as an actor, and play those kinds of scenes where you go head to head is a lot of fun. Brenda is a real nemesis for Carly and a true one. Both myself and Vanessa are super-excited about it.” But now that Brenda has a big, big secret, where does Carly fit into this? Our bet is she finds out before anyone else. Laura offered up this tease, “I am just going to say watch and see, because who do you think is going to fall upon all this information? How much fun is the audience going to have watching Carly find out the secret? Lots!” And finally, does Carly truly love and want to be with Jax at this point, or is she still drawn to Sonny? Laura says emphatically it’s Jax, but… “She loves Jax. Sonny with Carly is very different. There is a need, and a need to nurture and care and be there for each other which is always the case, but it’s very different than Jax. Jax is the here and now and the happening. With Sonny, it is about if something terrible happened no matter how many times Carly would tell him not to call her, the second he calls she would go, “How can I help?” Like if he were to have another breakdown or something because of Brenda, Carly would go after Brenda with a vengeance, and then at the same time let no one else take care of Sonny but her, because there is this whole mother bear aspect that comes out with people she cares about.”
Brianna Brown has made Lisa the ever-ready GH resident psycho wacko that just won’t go away with her tragic and terrorizing performances. Brown told me it was rough being the one character to set out to destroy Robin. “Robin is an amazing character, and trying to justify all of the crazy action that Lisa has done, from stealing the HIV meds, to stealing Emma, and all these things that normal people don’t do…has been quite the task. (Laughs) I relayed back to Brianna that Kimberly McCullough (Robin) in our recent interview said after the two of them throttle each other on-screen the two make nice-nice. Brown responded, “Well, We hug it out. There is a scene where Robin hits me and when we are done, Kimberly and I… we give each other a hug. We have hung out outside of work, and so it’s all acting, I can assure you!” And, Lisa is already back at the hospital causing havoc, so that must mean Brown is staying put. I mean, she is in the opening credits…after all! “Lisa is back. You will have to see. I knew I had a year contract with the show and of course, I did not know what they were going to do with Lisa. I mean she could get in a fatal car accident next week, you never know with soaps. And come to think of it, I have been in a car accident, where I threw myself in front of car, but I did not die from that.” (Laughs) Brianna recently wrote a fantastic piece on the soaps for the publication Best Ever You. I had the chance to compliment her on her thoughtfulness to the people in front of the camera and behind the scenes of the toughest genre there is. “It was titled, On My Soapbox. It was about having worked in different mediums and on soaps. I am trying to understand why are soaps getting a bad wrap. This is ridiculous. I think there need to be different perspective put on it. A lot of people working in daytime do a lot of amazing work as you know on these shows, and they should get more credit.” But in closing, what all the Scrubs fans want to know is, what was it like wreaking havoc on their favorite duo and perpetrating her shenanigans on Jason Thompson (Patrick)? “Jason is a sweetheart and Lisa is such a home-wrecker. I just want to say, personally, I would not be friends with Lisa, but I have to make her likeable and make sense.”
Are there two cuter young actresses on soaps today with more talent than Haley Pullos (Molly) and Lexi Ainsworth (Kristina)? I don’t think so. The young ladies who are the offspring of legal eagle, Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn) say there is no sibling rivalry with this duo on the set of GH. “We are so close and we don’t get into arguments like I do with my real-life sister,” said Lexi. “We have this great relationship where we are friends minus all the baggage.” Haley concurred, “I love working with Lexi. I tell everybody she is like a real sister to me. I don’t get into fights with you like I do with my other two sisters! You are right, Lexi!” I had to pass along a message to Haley from Bradford Anderson (Spinelli) who mentioned on a recent On-Air On-Soaps Podcast that Haley is the Helen Mirren of GH! Haley was astonished! “Wow! I don’t even know what to say about that.” Lexi chimed in, “She is always professional and in the zone when I am working with her.” And, what about the waterworks? These two can turn on the faucets like nobody’s business. Haley says, it’s all in a days work. “It is always easy to cry when I work with Lexi, because she just cries so easily. She makes me cry because she just looks so sad, and I want to make her happy.” Being the on-screen daughters of Daytime Emmy winner, Nancy Lee Grahn, the duo must have asked Nancy for some pointers. “Yes, she has also given me some tips,” Haley admitted. “For me, she looks out for me. My first day on set I did not know anybody and I was in hair and make-up. Nancy walked in and she goes, “Hi sweetie, I think I am your mom.” So that was sweet of her.”’ Lexi added, “Nancy is hilarious and we love working with her. She will give us some tips if we need them.”
Scott Reeves alter-ego Dr. Steven Webber is still in search of a true romantic interest, so is it going to be with Olivia, played by Lisa LoCicero once and for all? Reeves reveals, “You never know, and I would never say never. Lisa and I have had a few run-ins that were really fun, and for Steven to get between her and her opponent. She is strong, man. We are testing the waters.” This night at The Desi Geestman event was very special for Scott as during our interview he really took stock of where his life had come, as it brought him back to the waiting arms of daytime where he was once the beloved Ryan McNeil on Y&R. “I am loving GH and feel so blessed to come back to a job in this world and let alone a job where I can be with my best friend, Steve Burton, and numerous friends over the years. We kind of see everything coming full circle. When they called my wife, Missy (Jennifer, DAYS) back to work on Days of our Lives we were so thrilled. She went back to honor Frances Reid for her memorial and that is when it all just began to happen, and so it has just been pretty unreal.” Being in the Port Chuck Band is enabling Reeves to continue singing and performing, while being back to the grind of the soap biz. “Actually, that idea and credit for this band goes to Steve. He said, “You know, with your experience and what you have been doing in Nashville for the past several years this might be a great idea!” I had relative success with my band, Blue County, but coming out of that because the music industry has changed, Steve Burton said to me, “We need to put together an 80’s cover band.” His fantasy is to have an 80’s cover band with rap and it works. We just got done with our first tour on the east coast, and Steve was phenomenal. And we take people back to a trip of the 80’s.”
Ok, so how does a specimen as in-shape as Mr. Reeves eat? What is his recipe in Soap Dishes? “Both Missy and I each have our own recipe, because we are in the pictures together inside the book. We had a blast, man. I love to cook and especially in the summer time and I love to grill outside. Missy has become quite the chef. The recipes we picked for the book were to honor my grandmother. So we picked a lasagna recipe and a killer-cookie recipe that my grandmother made for us since I was a baby…two amazing recipes. Now regarding what I eat, when I am hanging out with Steve Burton we occasionally gorge out, especially around football season into the fall. It seems like it is then that you can’t not eat. However, I keep Steve in check and pull him back from the junk sugar candy corn! Steve knows when we go out to eat, and when he puts his mind to it, and he is not diverting off of this course, he is good with this diet. But when that time frame ends and it is the fall, he does not care. It’s very intentional and purposeful. I am more of the head case, the OCD, anal retentive guy who keeps it right there, and maintains the diet as best I can all year around. It’s just easier for me that way.”
Ronnie Marmo (Ronnie) gets to play on one side of the law against mobsters, cops and avengers of all sorts, in crime infested Port Charles. Ronnie elaborated on if PC’s Ronnie is secretly a bad dude, too. “The way I have been approaching this is; because the two heroes of our show are bad guys, and even if I was a bad guy, I am going against the two heroes of our show, which are bad guys. So for me, I play it as an honest and good cop even if I throw a gun into a lake or something. I can’t win because you can’t mess with Jason and Sonny!” Having to come in and play with Maurice Benard (Sonny) and Steve Burton must be a bit of a nerve-wracking first experience for any new daytimer.
After all, they are the true supercouple of PC and acting dynamos. “I was slightly intimated. I am very old friends with Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo. I used to come to the set when she was on the show back in the day, and see these guys and they knew me by my first name. I played basketball with Steve Burton. I remember when I was on the show for the first time. I remember thinking I am doing scenes with the two biggest guys on daytime television and so it crippled me for a moment. I knew I had to get over that because I would clam up and not do good work. But yes, I am intimated and I am getting over it after 16 months.” Speaking of Vanessa, Ronnie details that the upcoming possibility of working with his dear friend can have a bit of butterfly in the stomach effect, or as we call it in the soap world, “The Vanessa Effect.” Ronnie replies, “Vanessa is great. I am intimated by the fact that we may be working together on GH. You see, I looked up to her. She was working as an actor before I even decided to become an actor. She was the one that inspired me. So now when I am at work and running lines with her, I can get sort of tongue-tied. She has that effect on most men for other reasons, but not me, which is why I could live with her for a year in a very platonic relationship.”
Derk Cheetwood (Max) and I had a download about his on-screen love interest and my co-host on the On-Air On-Soaps Podcast, Carolyn Hennesy (Diane). Here is what Derk said about the divine Ms. H. “In my opinion, Carolyn Hennesy is one of the most talented women on daytime. She is very spontaneous and she has an amazing wit. She keeps me on my toes guessing, and it is so much fun to work with her. The scenes become so much more alive when she is in them and we are in it moment to moment. I am so fortunate that we have been together so long on GH. I think we may have recently broken some record in daytime. Neither one of us has cheated on the other, yet.” I warned Derk that he should not have said that, as I feel something is going to have to rattle and test the mob’s loveable lug and the shoe-addicted gangsta’ law lady. So what did Derk come up with as a relationship spoiler? Once again, “The Vanessa Effect!” “It’s only a matter of time before Vanessa, or shall I say Brenda, will want to come and hook up with Max, you know the deal. Carolyn and I have some fun scenes coming up on the show and Carolyn’s recipe, The Tangy Tomato Tart is ridiculously good in the cookbook.”
Derk went on to explain the process for photographing the recipes for Soap Dishes, “You know, I sat there when the food stylist from the Food Network was preparing all the food for the photo shoot for Soap Dishes. Some of us ate ourselves into oblivion. I have to tell you the food was really good. We thought there was going to be a few that were questionable, but the food by and large was off the chain!” Speaking of Soap Dishes, it all comes down to Derk’s love of food that the original idea was conceived. “We all know Max likes to eat, and so it would makes sense that he would like to cook. As many may have heard, Steve Burton was living with me before his wife and self-admittedly I would cook for him. I would like to cook, and he would love to eat. But a year and half ago we got together and we decided to do a cookbook that benefited charity.”
Now it was The Bold and the Beautiful’s turn with the chance to talk with three male head-turners from the CBS soap. Being the newbie at B&B, Adam Gregory (Thomas) and I had a chance to get down to brass tacks, like getting used to a genre you have never worked in before. Gregory says it was sink or swim. “They have thrown me with the veterans to learn the ropes like the Ridge, the Brooke, and anybody who has been on the series for the whole span of the show. So I am catching on very fast as they are throwing me in a huge storyline coming up. We are aging Thomas in every way. He is very driven and work bound. He wants to take over Forrester Creations, and everything he has is put out there full steam ahead. There is nothing stopping Thomas now. You are going to love to hate him.” In a recent On-Air On-Soaps interview with Scott Clifton (Liam, B&B) the young star admitted that Adam and he share a commonality. They both seem to end up going up for the same role or show. Adam cleared it up by saying, “Scott and I both tested for the role of Ty on 90210. Scott had tested and they then called me in and so they finalized it with me in the role of Ty Collins, but for B&B we tested together. I honestly don’t know if it was for the same character or not, because we are completely different. They brought us both back in from the initial audition. And to be honest with you, it was my first audition back in the saddle after 90210. I took some time off and got married and B&B was my first audition back, and they liked me for the role of Thomas.” Coming up to Adam’s knee, I had to ask, who is the tallest Forrester in all the land? Ronn Moss (Ridge), or Adam? “I am taller than Ron,” boasts Adam. “We have not talked about it yet and it probably it is a sore subject for Ronn. (Laughs) So, we will probably keep that one to ourselves. (Laughs) I am probably the tallest guy on that show and there are a lot of tall guys on B&B!” Now that Adam is another soap hunk in the making the show must have a lady-love in store for him, but the actor is quick to point out the pickins’ are slim. “There are no women that I am not related to. (Laughs) As far as I know, Thomas has been asexual, and I would like to see him get into the ladies and move out of his mom’s house. He is 24 and still living with her.” Adam plays the son of the very famous and infamous Hunter Tylo (Taylor). He says thus far their time together on-screen had been limited to spats! “Well, we have had nothing but fight scenes and she has been wonderful. Hunter and Katherine Kelly Lang seem to like to fight as Taylor and Brooke, and that is their cup of tea!” (Laughs)
It was great to see Rick Hearst, (Whip, B&B) again, but fans are wondering when they will get to see him on-screen again! Rick filled me in. “Whip will be resurfacing again. I was kind of feeling that all of the meetings I would have at Jackie M, I would just come in and nod and go, “That’s good. That’s good.” Now, I am starting to take a little more of an integral part of things because there are two fashion shows coming up. I literally say, “Bring out the jazz hands, because here they come.” I don’t know what happens, but Brad has somethingmy mind, and so he goes, “Ok. Bring in Whip.” It’s much fun playing the PR whiz, but I wish I had better campaign ideas then just take your clothes off!” (Laughs) I had to throw in that at least we hope for some on-screen marital woes for Taylor and Whip. “The interesting thing is that we just shot some things where we are finally going to touch on the fact that after everybody gets married, it’s all hunky dory and its’ all romance and love, love, and sex. And then at the end of the whole romance period what do you do? They haven’t really focused on that. There is a big splashy fashion show that comes up. I make a suggestion and it affects Ridge and Taylor’s relationship in a way that almost makes Whip start to wonder, “OK, is this really dead between them?” So there is going to be bit of a rift that comes out now. Hopefully, it will develop into something, but that depends on what Brad wants to do.” That got me thinking to how much I realized I missed Hearst’s Ric Lansing on GH. That guy would mix it up and create havoc for anyone in Sonny’s orbit. Rick says he is a bit melancholy about that when he sees so many of his pals at an event such as The Desi Geestman Foundation Evening with the Stars. “I miss seeing many of my friends who I am seeing here tonight and that is the part I do miss. I never closed the door anywhere I have gone, and it’s been helpful, obviously. I just filmed an episode of Castle and Nathan Fillion is in scenes with me. It was great to see him and he remembered me from back in the 1990′s. He was just a prince.”
It is no surprise that Rick Hearst is a fantastic cook, and we knew the dish he offered up in Soap Dishes had to be Italiano. I even wrangled a dinner invite out of Hearst! (Laughs) “It is Italian and it is my mother’s recipe and so I can’t take full credit for it. It’s Eggplant Parmesan, and it’s a great comfort food, and it’s a stage food. I like it because it keeps you in the kitchen a long time, and it allows you to enjoy the experience of cooking, as there are so many steps. Everything I learned growing up about cooking is creating the experience. I talk a lot about it in the cookbook and it’s about my heritage, my family and really giving something to somebody. I believe the saying is, “If you offer a man a drink he is an acquaintance, but you offer a man a meal he is a friend for life.” Everybody who comes to my house, I want to feed them and give them something like that.” I then revealed I hate to cook and hate laboring in the kitchen and Rick then gave me the secret incentive. “But Michael, there is wine involved!” (Laughs)
Brandon Beemer (Owen, B&B) and I chatted about Owen’s love life, which has him going from that cougar, Jackie M, to that beautiful young Forrester, Bridget. Brandon exclaimed, “Doesn’t everybody want everybody on B&B?” (Laughs) Then, he continued to attempt to explain Owen’s true romantic intentions and feelings. “For Owen in all seriousness, he wants a child and he wants a great marriage. I think his child brings him and Bridget together. There is that bond to be there for each other. Lesley-Anne Down as Jackie is so fun and fantastic, but Jackie doesn’t want to give Owen a baby. So what is he going to do? It is a desire as a human being. I, as Brandon Beemer, would love to have children and I can’t wait to have children. If I was in a situation where a woman couldn’t give me children, I don’t think necessarily it would change my future with her, but my heart would still desire wanting to have children. So it’s a tough situation.” Playing scenes with the beautiful brit, Lesley-Anne Down (Jackie) and the effervescent Ashley Jones (Bridget) is not a tough day at the office for Beemer, as he attempts to contrast the two. “Ashley is just a big ball of energy and fun. And then you go to Lesley-Ann Down and it’s all about crumpets and tea, tonight? (Laughs) She is so wonderful. It’s fun going back and forth to play opposite these two extremely talented actresses” Speaking of the ladies, there is one very special one in Beemer’s life and that is Days of our Lives, Nadia Bjorlin. I had to inquire about the secret to their romantic success and staying power as a couple. “I think it’s one of those weird chemistry things that falls into place, Beemer detailed. “ Trust me, I did not know this was going to be my future with her until I met her. I don’t see anything else except a future with Nadia.” In fact, Beemer admitted that back during his time as Shawn Brady on DAYS he was secretly seeing Bjorlin and nobody knew! “I was seeing her back then, but you just didn’t know it. Nobody knew. Even my hair and make-up guy who knew Nadia, did not know. She was not on the show at the time and I said, “That Nadia, isn’t she beautiful?” And he said, “Oh you have no idea!” And I go, “Oh, you are right. I don’t know.” Then, he found out and he was like, “You jerk!” We had already been dating and spending time together, and it was so much fun keeping it a secret.”
Brandon had been a true supporter of gay rights, including posing for a NOH8 campaign photo. He shared with me that along with his friends, how upset he was over the recent teen suicide news that canvassed our culture in recent weeks. “It is a terrible tragic thing to be afraid to go to school, and go out in public, and be afraid to be who you are. And, we are who we are every single day, and it’s sad people have to pick and choose…should I tell them this… or should I not tell them this…or, I hope they don’t find out about that. It is sad. A lot of my friends are gay, and I just can’t imagine then being bullied. I would beat someone over the head if I found out they were bullied.” Bottom line here: You want Brandon Beemer as your friend!
The Young and the Restless, Christian LeBlanc (Michael) really has one of the more spectacular layouts and pieces in the new Soap Dishes cookbook all about his beloved city of New Orleans. He expresses to me how much participating in the cookbook meant to him. “Well first off, I never formally met Steve Burton until we were doing this cookbook project. I think I went up to him at the Emmys once, as we were in the same category with a nomination. I think Steve did beat me that year! My recipe that I contributed to the book was Oyster Bisque, and it was one my mother made up. This cookbook is such a high end idea. New Orleans was so important to me after everything that it went through. These guys were so kind to have everyone down there with me, shooting the photos, etc, and it was an artist’s dream. It was about New Orleans and it was chance for me to express something that is important to me which is their food, the city, and the history and I think we got that. It means a lot to me with the city and it’s coming back, and it’s a stunning and unique place. I cook and my brothers in New Orleans cook, and it’s almost as important as eating. The images really were telling and beautiful. Cooking is a definitive thing about culture, and family and memories. So many projects are confined to certain things because of necessity, but Steve gave it a chance to raise it to the art form it is. You will notice that with certain cookbooks that it is about life you are describing, not just food. I think if you want to find out something more about a person from the soaps, it is an interesting read. I think you will get more insight into the actors you love this way then a hard pressed Q&A interview.”
Another night of soap dish in its truest form coupled with another night of making me hungry discussing all the various recipes and treats in Soap Dishes: the Cookbook had come and gone. And, it led me to want to go to the nearest bakery and pig out… which I did. Thank you very much soap stars! OK, Steve Burton and Scott Reeves, let’s just see who can eat the least candy corn through the holidays! Bets are on.
If you are interested in 35 recipes from your favorite soap stars with interviews and new exclusive images, click on the banner at the top of On-Air On-Soaps to order your copy.