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News for the week of 10-Aug-2014

by Carol Banks Weber

Gina Tognoni’s (ex-Kelly, OLTL; ex-Dinah, GL) family found out she got the recast role of Phyllis the same way everyone else did — on social networks. The actress didn’t even have a chance to tell them herself. She sensed she did well after her screen test, feeling especially proud of going outside her comfort zone. “I pushed it, in my opinion, but I knew that’s what this particular role needs. As Phyllis, you have to really just go for it!” Tognoni told Michael Fairman, August 7. “And, we don’t know the way the fans are going to go with this. I am like: ‘Well, I hope they like me.’ I remember after the audition seeing Y&R executive producer Jill Farren Phelps’ face. She looked happy, but there was still another girl to read for the role. Everyone gets a fair shot, but the cards went my way.” Once Tognoni got the coveted role, she experienced a moment of, OMG! Now what? But she kept her head down, focused on the role, and figured out how to commute from the East Coast to tape a bunch of scenes in advance, trying to avoid any negative comments online.

Chris L. McKenna (Det. Mark Harding) looks familiar, because he’s not new to soaps. When he was only 12, he appeared in a major role on OLTL as Joey Buchanan, with a major story about Billy Douglas coming out of the closet. He’s come a long way now, attracting plenty of fan attention as the asshole cop who is always in Kevin’s face and bitching out Dylan for getting his boss Paul shot. Even with such a terrible intro, the interest is there to broaden the character’s scope and invest in some appeal. All McKenna knows of his character so far is that Harding is a typical “blue collar kid” who isn’t much for the fancy Newmans and Abbotts running the town with their power. Otherwise, he doesn’t venture far in his own back story, lest everything changes overnight. “If I had I wouldn’t divulge it; it’s just going to change. I feel like it’s a dangerous thing to do on these shows because I’m going to find out I had sex change or I used to be a telephone operator, I have no idea what I’m going to find what I used to be. I stick with what it is on the page and go from there.” Serial Scoop interview by Michael Goldberg, August 4, 2014

Meredith Baxter (Family Ties) engages recovering alcoholic Nikki Newman in her first few scenes September 8, playing out story all fall season. Baxter will play Maureen, a fellow barfly Nikki meets. Baxter supposedly has ties to other characters. –Michael Logan of TV Guide broke the stunt-casting scoop August 4, 2014

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