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News for the week of 07-Mar-2016

by Carol Banks Weber

Everyone has been quoting only one part of Michael Logan’s March 2 TV Insider interview with veteran soap actor Eric Braeden (Victor) — and not even the complete quote. When asked about Marco raping Phyllis, and Victor’s part in this nefarious plan, Braeden — speaking as his character — said this: “Victor doesn’t see it that way. His response would probably be, ‘Hell, no, she enjoyed it!’ But, yes, it was a horrible thing to do, and this will test Victor as never before.” Many viewers who already hate both the character and the man behind the character have been taking this quote out of context, to make Braeden out to be an unfeeling bastard. Even when soap sites like Daytime Confidential specifically say this is Braeden speaking as his character, fans continue to hate.

What is very clear from this interview is Braeden finds himself pleasantly surprised by outrageous stories that turn out quite compelling on his show, and he’s once again fed up with the disrespect his on-screen family has shown to the patriarch he plays.

He said he’s refused to play out scenes as written if he feels it’s uncharacteristic to Victor, which really sent his critics into an uproar. “… This is where the writers and I have had disagreements. They have their agenda. But I remember Victor’s history. When I see a script where Victor starts to soften with someone who has done him wrong, I say, ‘Bulls--t! I won’t act this!’”

He also gave plenty of insight into the reason the character continually does what he does and winds up alone. Braeden always goes back to the reason for Victor’s behavior, back to when his family abandoned him at an orphanage. “You have to remember that Victor was left on the doorstep of an orphanage at the age of seven, abandoned by the people who supposedly loved him. That is something you do not overcome emotionally, no matter how rich and powerful you get in this world. This just reinforces what Victor has always believed: He is alone. When things get really bad, that is what he always returns to.”

Watch out, Gina Tognoni’s Phyllis is on the warpath and Victor’s her prey. Tognoni talked to Michael Fairman in a Feb. 29 interview about the path toward Phyllis’s empowerment, Victor’s doom, her Emmy pre-nom submission reel, and maybe a fling with the recast Billy. It’s coming.

“The audience says no one ever wins against Victor, but we are definitely going to see her try,” Tognoni said. “This is a powerful woman and I want to celebrate that. I want to find it in myself, because God knows, I don’t always maintain that, but try to bring that out and own it. You don’t always have to be the loudest in the room, and Phyllis can do this in lots of different ways and explore her power. It’s cool to see a woman do that, I think. I like being that woman.”

As for a Billy-and-Phyllis pairing, Tognoni first got wind of this wish on Twitter. If this ever happens, she hopes the writers go slow, building a reason for the connection. Right now they’re friends. “I want to earn whatever happens. I have said that before, and I will keep saying it: I think the audience deserves to get the chance to invest in the characters. In my career in soaps, I have had it where things happen too quick or the audience is not invested, or I have had them invested and then we lost them. I’ve experienced it all. I have been doing this for 20-plus years. The one thing I don’t want is to disappoint the audience.”

Tognoni believes in Jason Thompson’s (ex-Patrick, GH) ability to inhabit Billy’s darker, compulsive side, having also witnessed him in action as a romantic doctor hero on GH. “I know he’s pulling that from somewhere, and he is so interesting to watch. Jason is a lovely human being, and professional. We are so lucky to have him.”

Yvette Nicole Brown (Community, The Odd Couple) has been a fan of Y&R for a long time. When she had a chance to appear on the soap, she couldn’t believe her good fortune. It was her fandom that appealed to TPTB at CBS, who reached out for her to play a reporter grilling Jack, Phyllis, and Billy in the April 4 scenes. “It was probably one of the most exciting calls I have ever received. The only thing that could equal it is if I were to get a call to be on Sesame Street,” she told Michael Ausiello, March 1, for TV Line. “If Sesame Street ever calls, just go on and tell the Lord I’m comin’ home.”

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