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News for the week of 22-Jul-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

It’s not every day Michael Easton (Silas; ex-John McBain; ex-Caleb) sits down for a lengthy interview. He did for TV Guide’s Michael Logan in a July 15th interview, addressing concerns of both OLTL and GH fans in the aftermath of the Prospect Park/ABC Daytime feud.

Not surprisingly, the actor distanced himself from the controversy surrounding the incoming and abruptly outgoing OLTL characters. Despite trying to stay out of the fray and simply keeping his family taken care of, the rumor mill tried to paint him and the other OLTL transplants as greedy interlopers. The rumormongers were even worse on Easton, saying the actor pulled a kind of Susan Lucci (ex-Erica, AMC) on TPTB, supposedly on a diva high. Let him explain: “It was strange suddenly being out of work for 12 weeks. During that time I chose not to say much — mostly because I didn't know a lot — but we had actors Twittering about my situation with Prospect Park when they didn't know anything about it. Stories were flying that just weren't true. When the three of us left GH there was total uncertainty about when we were coming back or even if we were coming back. There was a story going around that I was refusing to go back and play McBain on OLTL. At the time, I chose not to address it but it just wasn't true. I have a funny feeling I know where that rumor started.”

Easton can even prove that rumor wrong with a “fairly lengthy paper trial documenting my discussions about how we could make it work.” He has a family based in L.A. to think about. Flying cross country to Connecticut to film OLTL for Prospect Park would’ve taken some finagling, but he said he was willing to do it. Prospect Park and ABC Daytime, on the other hand, began to get embroiled in something else entirely, entirely out of Easton’s control. “And then, suddenly, things built into a tempest between the parties and there was a lot of confusion and uncertainty, so I tried to stay away from it and focus on my writing and my family,” Easton explained. “In the end, I don't know that the situation worked out all that well for anybody. I think maybe people thought I knew more than I did. We were never privy to any of the discussions about what was going on behind the scenes. We were pawns in a much bigger story. I cleaned out my dressing room at GH on my last day as McBain. There were no plans for the future, no guarantees of anything. Without a job, I started watching a lot of Sesame Street. I spent all day with my daughter, teaching her to swim, taking her on outings, so on that level it was great.”

Keep in mind, according to Easton, that Prospect Park informed him and his OLTL cohorts of nothing after the soap was canceled on ABC Daytime back in 2011. What were they supposed to do, twiddle their thumbs unemployed, or find work asap? For Easton, the answer was easy. GH came up and he took it. Thanks to whatever happened with Prospect Park, it turned out to be at OLTL’s expense—not what Easton intended. Back when OLTL was taken off the air then Prospect Park dropped the ball with their online plans, “[t]hose of us who had commitments to [continue with Prospect Park] were released from those commitments and heard nothing else from them. After you go awhile not making any money, you end up choosing what's right for your family and, for me, that was moving to GH,” Easton continued. “The whole thing was awkward and I don't think anybody handled it very well, but it is what it is. It feels really terrible to be in the middle because the people on OLTL are my friends. I would love to have worked with them again. It was really hard to have it go down that way. And to not be able to support them and go along on their ride to the Internet made me kind of sad. But I do think people are being too hard on ABC. They kept OLTL going for over 40 years. Yes, having it cancelled was a really bad thing but the network's four-decade commitment shouldn't be forgotten. You can't dismiss it. But that's just my take.”

Did you meet Michael Easton (Silas) at the July 18-20 Comic-Con in San Diego? He was at the Blackwatch Comics booth promoting his latest graphic novel (he has Soul Stealer and The Green Woman already under his belt), Credence… “right in there with the big guys — Dark Horse, Marvel, DC Comics. We can see their booths without putting on binoculars, so it's pretty cool.” Credence was born when Easton rode around with New York City’s finest as research for his then-new OLTL character, Det. John McBain. Eventually, Easton drew a character portrait of a decorated police officer secretly struggling with inner demons, lost in a sea of depravity. “He's also a guy who is having a lot of trouble relating to everyday life, the changing times, the pop culture, the sense of entitlement so many people feel, the younger generation, the widespread stupidity. He understands criminals better than he understands what's going on in society. I had so much fun writing this guy. He's a throwback to the old-style cops — a Harry Callahan-Frank Bullit type of guy.”

As much as cops have inspired Easton, he admitted portraying them, as well as doctors, tends to be a no-win venture for an actor, especially on a soap opera. Losing John McBain wasn’t Easton’s choice, but he’s ready to give all he’s got to his new GH character, Dr. Silas. Easton, Roger Howarth (Franco; ex-Todd), and Kristen Alderson (Kiki; ex-Starr) are all trying to make the best of a situation that was handed to them by TPTB. Easton asked fans to be patient and give them a break. “The three of us were ripped out of our comfort zone and our characters and all their relationships were suddenly out the window. It's been a little scary. Hopefully the audience understands that this situation is unprecedented and really tough. The fans are so aware of the circumstances that went on behind the scenes, so I would hope they'll give us a pass and let us have the opportunity to play this out. I'm really encouraged by what's coming up. Some real fire will come out of the storytelling… If the storytelling ends up being good and engaging, then all will be forgiven. If it ends up going nowhere, then obviously it was the wrong choice. We need to give [head writer] Ron Carlivati and his writing team a chance to tell their stories. They've mapped out something really strong here, something that can't be judged just three or four weeks into it.”

A few July 26th GH Fan Club Weekend events had to be switched around because of the last-minute tweaks to the soap’s production schedule. The changes affect Chad Duell (Michael) and Kristen Alderson’s (Kiki) joint event, pushed back to 7 p.m.-9 p.m. The actors understand this may conflict with other, prior events, so they’re willing to hang back afterwards for the straggling fans. Same thing with Bryan Craig (Morgan), Tequan Richmond (T.J.), and Jimmy Deshler’s (Rafe) event, but theirs was changed to an earlier 4 p.m.-6 p.m., and Lisa LoCicero’s (Olivia) goes back one hour, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Richard Simmons brings himself back next month, exact on-air date isn’t yet known. He’s already filming in the studio though. Kelly Thiebaud (Britt) cracked us up on Twitter with this description, July 18: “strange noises filling the halls of GH 2day-I thought there was a farm animal trapped somewhere. Then I remembered Richard Simmons was here...”

Maura West (Ava; ex-Carly, ATWT) has been earning herself some brand-new fans since taking over GH—and she loves that! Part of her appeal is amazing chemistry with everybody. Weekdays with Murph’s Cody Murphy made the actress’ day by bringing up her amazing chemistry in a July 19th Blog Talk Radio interview. She said whatever she does, she just tries to listen. “I just try to be really super present in the scenes, whether it’s with a strapping young hunk or with a woman.” When she first stepped foot onto the GH set, veteran actress Jane Elliot (Tracy) was the first person to welcome her. West found it hard to believe someone could be that nice. But time confirmed the warm, welcoming first impression. “Yeah, she really is that warm, kind, inviting, and thoughtful.” West also enjoys closely working opposite Roger Howarth (Franco; ex-Todd) and Michael Easton (Silas; ex-John) in her storyline, for different reasons. She said while Howarth “doesn’t like to be talked about,” she nevertheless praised his unorthodox, creative, playful acting approach. “There’s no ego involved… He just wants to try something interesting.” Prior to GH, West had never met Easton, other than to receive one of her Emmys from him. She joked that she gets to look at him every day in her home since she has a framed photo of that Emmy moment hung up on the wall. Easton has a “very different process than Roger, but… equally enjoyable.”

Maura West distinguishes herself from the crowd of soap actors with her work off-screen as a big supporter of autism treatment options and support for parents and siblings. One of her children was diagnosed with autism, thrusting her into that advocate role. “I wish I could say it was altruistic but it’s not. I’m a parent of a child with autism. Frankly, had one of my children not been affected, I wouldn’t have learned more about it.” She quickly added that she’d still care about fighting autism in a grander sense, but being affected directly, “[i]t makes an advocate out of you. You don’t choose it.”

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