January 18th, 2009  |  Leave a comment

THE MICHAEL FAIRMAN INTERVIEW – THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

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Many “On-Air On-Soaps” fans have emailed me and written to me, asking, “When I am going to do an interview with Michael Fairman, who plays Katherine’s new beau Murphy, on “The Young and the Restless”? Also, many fans have asked me, “Are you related to “Y&R’s” Michael Fairman?” Well, in an interview that has been almost 40 years in the making, the two ‘soap opera’ Michael Fairman’s finally meet up face to face in this very profound interview. There is more to this story and our connection than meets the eye. Read the transcript below for all the details and what’s coming up on “Y&R” and more! Without further adieu, Fairman interviews Fairman!

Listen to the audio:

Play

MICHAEL:

So you and I share a very interesting past and connection. You changed your last name to Fairman, and actually called my parents when I was growing up to ask permission.
Tell me in your own words what happened?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I became Michael Fairman officially in Milwaukee, Wisconsin around 1967. I looked through the phone book and wanted to find a “Fairman” to see if it was alright to use the name. I happened to call Michael Fairman’s dad. I said, “Mr. Fairman you are not going to believe this conversation, but my name is ‘so and so’, and I would like to change my name to Michael Fairman, and I would like your permission to be a Fairman.” Well, I guess it turned out he had a son named Michael Fairman.

MICHAEL:

It was interesting. I was 9-years-old at the time. I was sitting at the dinner table with my parents and the phone rang. I knew this man called and asked my dad if he could change his name to Fairman. My dad goes, “Sure!” Little did he realize I was going to go into show business on my own, let alone end up in soap operas! And now, every time people would see your name on a soap or episodic shows, they would ask me if I was on that particular show, and I would say, “No.”

fairman-fairman.jpgY&R FAIRMAN:

…And the real Michael Fairman went into show business, and he can’t use his name now after all these years! I feel bad. How am I going to make retribution?

MICHAEL:

You have done soaps such as “Ryan’s Hope” and “General Hospital” and now “Y&R”. Let’s start with “Ryan’s Hope”. How did that come about?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I was on a soap opera called “Love of Life” where I played the power behind the Mayor. He was a nefarious guy. Paul Mayer and Claire Labine wrote that soap opera. When they were doing that soap opera they were creating a new soap called “Ryan’s Hope”. One day Claire called me in her office and said, “How would you like to be on a new soap with a new character called, “Nick Szabo”? He was Hungarian Mafioso, and Julie Barr (Ex- Brooke, “AMC” and Ex- Reenie, “RH”) was my daughter. The whole concept of my character was that he would be in continual conflict with the Ryan’s, especially Frank Ryan. I would be his nemesis, and then Julia Barr, as my daughter, would have my character, Nick, wrapped around her finger.

MICHAEL:

How was working with Daytime Emmy winner Julia Barr?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Julia was wonderful. It was a very interesting concept for soaps at the time. The Ryan’s were working-class people and they had a bar in Manhattan. Then, they had the Mafioso story, which was me, and then there were the doctors, and the newspaperman, Jack Fenelli. So it was real people, not the pretty boys and girls that they have usually on soaps.

NickSzabo.jpgMICHAEL:

What happened to Nick?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

He went away to Las Vegas, never to return after the first year. I was going to be a staple on the show, but an executive took over ABC Daytime and decided he did not want a Mafioso storyline, so I was let go.

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MICHAEL:

Interesting, since now there is Mafioso galore over at “GH”! Now onto “Y&R,” and your audition with thee Jeanne Cooper (Katherine): How did it come about?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I was asked, “Do you want to audition for a soap?” I said, “Why not?” And I looked Jeannie up on IMDB on the website. I had never seen her on “Y&R”, sorry to say, and she had just won an Emmy! I knew she was Corbin Bernsen’s mom. I had worked with him several times on LA LAW, so I decided to audition. When I got there Jeanne was so warm and accommodating, and so accessible. This was beyond. We were at the edge of the table, and on the three other sides of the table were the executives and the casting directors, and we just had a ball. My agent had said, “There has to be chemistry.” So we made chemistry. I did not hear anything for a couple days, and I got a call saying the chemistry was great, and that they liked me. When I came into work the first day, they all said kind things, and it worked out. As I work with Jeanne, she continually tells me how good we get along. It’s like a match made in heaven.

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MICHAEL:

You knew Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), though, and got the low down on Jeanne from her, right?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I talked to Michelle Stafford and she said, “Oh, you are going to love working with Jeanne Cooper.” Michelle Stafford and I go back to before she got “Y&R”. We were in acting class together. Michelle is a dynamite actress. We all thought she would do really well in feature films, but she has done very well in soaps, which she loves. She told me everyone loves working with Jeanne.

MICHAEL:

So, what do you think is at the core of Murphy, on “Y&R”?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

What was in the script is: he was married and his wife died, and he was kind of lonely. So he would go down to the diner and visit Marge, Pearl, and Joe Jr. He is a low maintenance guy who eeks out a living by running a bait and tackle shop. He lives in his trailer. He lets life go by day-by-day, enjoying it and enjoying fishing, and he’s not really very ambitious. Murphy is enjoying his golden years, and once he meets Marge, or who he thinks is Marge, he becomes very protective, and his purpose becomes more active. Life takes on another dimension for him with Marge. Then when Marge turns into Katherine, he finds qualities in Katherine that are attractive to him in a different way. There is a scene where he says, “You could shoot the breeze with Marge, but you could really talk to Katherine.” Katherine is a much more dimensional person than Marge. He liked Marge to pal around with, but I think he could have a real relationship with Katherine.

another-michael.jpgMICHAEL:

Does Murphy feel she is unattainable or does she intimidate him, since Katherine is, after all, “The Duchess”?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Murphy is not intimated by it. But he doesn’t really feel he can fit in. I am a little reluctant to think that I could fit in, although I still care about her. But, as far as taken into her life, I don’t think realistically, he could fit in, and I think it would be awkward for him.

MICHAEL:

Are we finally going to have some DNA testing?!

Y&R FAIRMAN:

She is going to have the DNA. Her  memory has been coming back in bits and pieces, and I believe she is Katherine. Now we have the ring that she pawned, and the pawnbroker has figured out it was Katherine who turned over the ring, and that’s a big plus.

MICHAEL:

How did Murphy feel about Marge?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

He already determined Marge was dead, and it was sad for him. The fact that here is Katherine, sort of mitigates that.

MICHAEL:

Will we soon find out about the DNA results?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

The DNA test results will come soon and she will know she is Katherine. We are already playing a scene where I know she has to go back to Genoa City. It’s kind of bittersweet. She says I can fit in, and I say, “Probably not.” Things will happen that will put things off for a while, in terms of their separation.

MICHAEL:

They will be separated?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

They will and they won’t.

cooperjoes.jpgMICHAEL:

Tell me about working with Jeanne?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

She is very improvisational. In fact, she will be talking to me and I don’t know she is doing the script. It’s such a reality in terms of the character, and we are able to improvise. It’s just that circumstance where two actors are so comfortable with each other and their characters can say or do most anything and it works. In a short time we have reached a level of comfortableness. And she has said, and I have said to her a number of times, “God, I really love working with you.” (and she goes) “And I really love working with you,” and we do. We enjoy it, and we high five each other after every scene. We are the fastest in our scenes of anyone on the set, and we get through our scenes in record time.

MICHAEL:

What about your idea to do a play with Jeanne?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

There is a possibility of doing a play. I had an idea since we play cards on the show, why don’t we look at the play, “The Gin Game”. It won the Pulitzer Prize in the late 70’s. Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and Charles Durning and Julie Harris performed it. So I approached the idea to Jeanne and she wanted to read it. So this week I am bringing the play for her to read, and if she can make the time, maybe we could do it ourselves.

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MICHAEL:

If you were writing the show, what would you love to see happen in the Murphy/Katherine storyline?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Since I am her protector and care about her, and probably even in love with her, it would be great if she then says, “Why don’t you come to Genoa City and take part in my business? I will give you a job or I will give you a position.” Murphy could then be her eyes and ears, and he agrees to do that. Everyone else thinks he is after her money. They all get kind of nasty with him and they try to prove she is insane for trying to do that. So now he has to protect her.

MICHAEL:

So he would kill for her?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Well, he’s already said that.

MICHAEL:

He knows he is in love with her?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I have a line where he says, “I am really going to miss you.” He knows. He is not easily open with his emotions, but you know it’s there. I think if push came to shove, he would tell her in a certain circumstance.

MICHAEL:

What do you think Katherine feels for Murphy?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I think she cares about him very much. I think she is almost there on that. I don’t think a man has treated her the way Murphy has, or given her the kind of care that he has. From the first time when he thought she was Marge, and now as Katherine, it has just intensified. He does not care she is a billionaire; it has no affect on him. It’s about the person for him, and I hope it stays that way.

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MICHAEL:

What are some scenes or moments you have loved thus far, that you did on “Y&R”?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

There was one time when Katherine went to the mansion, and she recognized the picture of (Victor) Newman and her daughter, and at that moment Murphy realized she was Katherine and that Marge was dead. That was kind of a rich scene for both of us. Because I was equally affected by Marge’s death, and now here is someone I was assuming was Marge is now someone totally different. Another one was on Christmas Eve. The carolers came and they gave me a sprig of mistletoe. She said, “Are you going to stand there or are you going to hang it up?” I go, “Ok. I will hang it up.” Then she went under it and I kissed her. That was the first kiss. I have kissed her subsequently.

MICHAEL:

Is she a good kisser?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Well, it’s not intense yet. (He laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you watch your performances back after you have taped them?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I prefer not to for this reason: I have in my mind what I have done, and how it actually played out. If I need critique, I have people who will critique for me. But for myself, I don’t like to watch it in order to correct it. I feel so good about doing this, that I don’t want to see things that destroy that. I don’t want that. I have such a great time that doing that would affect me. The feedback I am getting on the show from executive producer, Paul Rauch, and supervising producer, Anthony Morina, and from Jeanne Cooper, is all complimentary. Since it’s an ongoing role, I don’t like that to interfere with my process for the role.

MICHAEL:

Now on “GH” you played another bad guy! Who did you work with the most over in Port Charles?

Y&R FAIRMAN

I worked mostly with Maurice Benard (Sonny) and Vanessa Marcil (Ex-Brenda). They are both great and terrific actors. I was Sonny’s mentor and a bad guy, and he killed me. I was Jewish mafia this time. I was named Harry Singer.

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WithSlezak-2.jpgMICHAEL:

I was with Erika Slezak at ABC Super Soap weekend this past November, and she asked me if I was related to the Michael Fairman that was in the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre with her. I of course, said, “No, that’s the other Michael Fairman”. How was working with Erika?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Erika and I met in Milwaukee in 1965, and we were part of that company for four seasons. She and I were leading actors of the Milwaukee Repertory. Erika was wonderful! We did plays like, “Hedda Gabbler” and “Skin of our Teeth”. She left and went back to New York and eventually, “One Life to Live”.

MICHAEL:

OK, now let’s do a few comparisons. Born?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Bronx, 1934

MICHAEL:

Milwaukee 1961… Favorite color?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Blue…

MICHAEL:

…Blue… Zodiac sign?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Pisces

MICHAEL:

Capricorn… Hobbies?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Photography, working out…

MICHAEL:

…. Working out and music. Married?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Married and have a child from this marriage who is 14, and a son who is in New York who is 42.

MICHAEL:

I am single, single and single with no children, maybe a dog soon…Favorite actor?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Marlon Brandon, and I love Spencer Tracy!

MICHAEL:

Robert DeNiro… Favorite Actress?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Cate Blanchett..

MICHAEL:

Current crop of actors: who do you enjoy?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I loved Johnny Depp in “Finding Neverland”. It was amazing, as are many things he has done…”Edward Scissorhands” and “Gilbert Grape”. I like European actors, too, like Christian Bale and Clive Owen, who is also just super.

HillStreetb.jpgMICHAEL:

When you were on the nighttime hit series, “Hill Street Blues”, that’s when I got a lot of phone calls asking me if I was on the show!

Y&R FAIRMAN:

I had a run on there. I played an interesting character: this smarmy councilman who was this nasty guy who put the screws to Captain Furillo. He abused his power, and one night when he was drunk he killed someone, and that was the end of him. Throughout my career, I have played hard, tough, no-nonsense guys. On, “Cagney and Lacey”, I was inspector of police and they used to call me, “The pig”!

MICHAEL:

Does that come easy?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

Yeah. (He laughs) Nasty is fun… the nastier the better. A character who is bad does not think he is bad. The less you play bad, the less you are. But I like Murphy on “Y&R”. He is tough, compassionate, and not a pushover. He was tough on Marge.

MICHAEL:

Did you always know you wanted to go into acting?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

No. Entertainment was the furthest thing from my mind. It was not until I was in the Air Force that I was interested in acting. I was over in Japan, and someone talked me into being in a theater group, but not as an actor. I wanted to get involved because I had a lot of time on my hands. I liked carpentry and I would build scenery for them on the Air Force base just outside of Tokyo. They talked me into being in a play. I was in three or four plays. I loved being on the stage, and loved what happened after getting all the accolades, and the work was fun for me. I got out of the Air Force, and at that point I went back to NYU. I did not find that was very helpful for me. So I studied with Lee Strasburg, and I did not find that helpful. Then, I studied with Uta Hagen, which was helpful. Then, I went to do Shakespeare in Oregon. I did Shakespeare for four seasons, and became adept at classical plays. Then in 1961, I continued to study with Uta Hagen and then worked professionally. I was not finding a whole lot of work in New York, so my wife, who was an actress at that time, and I both got accepted at the Milwaukee Rep.

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MICHAEL:

So, is that when you decided to change your name?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

It was a little bit before that, because my name was being misspelled in a derogatory way, and it was an ethnic sounding name. So I thought it would be limiting for me. I wanted to keep the MF initials so I found Michael Fairman and I thought it sounded nice. My name was ‘Fuchs’ and my first name was Milton. I used to get kidded as a child because Milton Berle was big at the time and he was known as “Uncle Milty”, and I was called that and I did not like either name. So I changed it to Michael Fuchs. When I started working in Oregon, they would misspell my name in the programs. So I said, “Enough of this”. So when I got to Milwaukee, I legally changed it to Michael Fairman. Milton Fuchs no longer exists.

fairman-headshot.jpgMICHAEL:

Well, I think Michael Fairman sounds ethnic, and I have lived it with since I was born! (He laughs)…In closing Mr. Fairman, if we were to tease fans of “Y&R”, what can we say is on the horizon for Murphy and Katherine?

Y&R FAIRMAN:

A complication of the plot! Here is what I can say: all may seem well with Katherine, and she may be going on the path towards Genoa City and her life. All may seem light and happy, and she is going back to renew her relationships with her old life… but that might not be… and look for Murphy on a white horse.

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