By Michael Fairman
Originally published on Advocate.com May 20 2009 11:00 PM ET
Every two weeks soap expert Michael Fairman will be weighing in on what's gay with daytime TV -- for this, his inaugural column, it's same-sex kisses gone wrong, Daytime Emmy nods, and a soap star's big comeback.
A Kiss is Just a Kiss?
The Young and the Restless star Chris Engen, who plays "straight" Adam Newman, reportedly walked off the set two days ago (while under contract), refusing to kiss costar Yani Gellman, who plays Rafe. the only (thus far) out gay character on the show. Engen is reportedly unhappy with the dark direction his character has taken in recent months, including "gaslighting" the very pregnant Ashley, inducing his partial blindness with Botox, and now, perhaps, kissing another man? The top soap immediately went to work to recast the pivotal role, and TV Guide has learned that Engen's replacement has already been found. Adam will now be played by Michael Muhney of Veronica Mars fame, and his first air date is scheduled for June 25.
Is homophobia setting in already at Y&R , just as the soap is finally launching its first gay male story line in the show's 36-year history? Stay tuned.
Young, Restless and Gay? In a related item ... you will need a scorecard to follow along, so here goes: Gay actor Thom Bierdz makes a top-secret return to Y&R as Langley -- or the "back from the dead" Phillip Chancellor III -- or someone else? (Read Advocate.com's interview with Bierdz ). Yani Gellman is playing Rafe, the first out gay male character in the history of Y&R , and John Driscoll (ex-Coop, GL ), is coming to the soap in the weeks to come as Phillip Chancellor IV, reportedly home from the war and rumored to be a love interest for Rafe. But what gives? Add to this the previously mentioned walk-off by Engen and his previously heterosexual character allegedly having an on-camera kiss with Rafe. Either the show is doing a tremendous job at throwing us red herrings, or telling a gay story for the first time on the number-1 rated soap is becoming very complicated.
Whatever is going down, it will certainly make soap history!
This week: Natalia (Jessica Leccia) told Olivia (Crystal Chappell) that she talked to Father Ray about her feelings, and after praying, she doesn't think they should live together yet ... but not because she thinks it's a sin. The duo wants to plan out a timetable to tell their children and the chatty Springfield community about their relationship.
Next week's Otalia preview: Natalia's son, Rafe, returns home, his legal trouble behind him. Dumped groom and sometimes doofus Frank offers to be the strong male role model for the troubled youth. And more trouble for our gals. Can they find the right time to tell Rafe about their love in bloom?
Over at All My Kids, the highly touted, over-the-top May sweeps umbrella story that killed off a "legendary character" turned out, as expected, not to be control freakazoid Adam Chandler (David Canary) but his "simpleton" twin, Stuart. The show's much maligned scribe, Chuck Pratt Jr., received pushback from the ABC network on his choice to kill off the beloved character. Quelle surprise! This is the same guy who destroyed the Bianca-Reese pairing.
In Soap Opera Weekly, Pratt defends himself: "I'm willing to take those slings and arrows, as I did on the lesbian story. It's really about telling the story with Adam I wanted to tell."
And what is that? Will Adam's medication make him have an affair with the now slightly "brain-rattled" Tad (Michael E. Knight)?
Daytime Emmy Nods
Speaking of All My Children, in an industry shocker, the sudser picked up the most nominations of any show on daytime -- 19, including Outstanding Drama Series for one of its CGI-filled tornado episodes. In a year when the show was completely uneven, it's hard to fathom the Emmy process of submitting one episode to represent the series and that the powers that be chose one in which all the characters looked like they were cardboard cutouts against the backdrop of a twister! The buzz from industry voters tells me that AMC looks to be the top contender for the prize along with B&B, which submitted its dark and controversial Storm suicide/Katie heart transplant storyline.
In more promising Emmy news: Gay fans will be happy to know that Advocate.com darling Tamara Braun picked up a nod for Supporting Actress for her tour-de-force peformance as whack-job Ava on Days, not for her "Lesbian Gone Wild" Reese on AMC. Tamara, on receiving the nod: "I am absolutely stunned and overjoyed by the nomination. I loved the challenge of Ava and the freedom I was given to play her. I'm so touched and grateful for the nomination, and I'm looking forward to the awards so I can see everyone I have worked with again! Thank you! Thank you!"
On the male side, As the World Turns ' Van Hansis, our gay hero Luke, scored a major victory. His first time submitting himself for the Supporting Actor category, he made it into the big leagues! Van tells Advocate.com, "I made it to the final five. It's just like American Idol. It feels great to be nominated in the Supporting Actor category. I was really shocked, and I honestly was not expecting it. So to be nominated, I was very honored."
And in one of the most glaring omissions on the final ballot, straight and gay soap fans alike were devastated that Crystal Chappell ( Olivia, GL ) did not make the cut in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category. Remember, you are judged on one episode, and it all depends how your reel sits with the judges. Well, no matter what, Crystal deserved the Emmy for her powerful and unwavering portrayal of a woman coming to terms with having feelings for another woman for the first time. Click here for a complete list of nominees, interviews, and reactions.
Where the Boys Are
Hop on over to www.soaphunks.net and vote this week in the semifinal round for the Adonis 2009 competition. Now through May 26, vote for your hottest studs from The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives. Fans have the power to vote for their favorite pair of abs and pecs into the final round! B&B 's Brandon Beemer (Owen) and Days ' Eric Martsolf (Brady) and Shawn Christian (Daniel) are just a few of the tantalizing choices.
While many gay fans are used to rallying for gay rights, how about rallying to "Save the Light "? If you are in the Big Apple on Friday, head out and show your support for the canceled 72-year-old soap Guiding Light. The organizers are staging a powwow and lovefest for the show. Meeting place is the studio of CBS's The Early Show and participants will march to the corporate headquarters Lifetime Television, the cable net that many are hoping will pick up the show once it's off CBS. Organizer Karen Oswald says the Light must stay on the air not only because of its rich multigenerational history of the show but also the unconventional yet engaging stories ... including the romance of Otalia, which has taken viewers on a spectacular ride. For more info check out www.savethelight.com .
Scene Stealer of the Week
If you suffer from amnesia, a surefire way to get your memory back is to relive your gang rape! Yup, that's what One Life to Live 's Marty Saybrooke had to endure. Actress Susan Haskell gave the life-changing performance of the week, tied up to a chair by one former rapist, with the ringleader of the deed, Todd Manning, tied to a bedpost and sprawled out on a bed in front of her. Men, get your minds out of the gutter! Haskell was phenomenal and proved why she is one of the top contenders to walk away with the Outstanding Lead Actress prize when the Daytime Emmys are handed out August 30 on the CW!
Catfight of the Week
Speaking of One Life to Live, this week's best clawfest between Todd's former wife, Blair (Kassie DePaiva), and current lover, Tea (Florencia Lozano), gets our nod. While locked in a fraternity house boiler room with a potentially lethal gas leak, these two pop open their blouses and use that cloth to try to stop up the leak! Then proceed to verbally assault each other to pieces over the man they both love. However, as they struggle against the fumes, Tea's about to admit a life-altering secret to her rival ... but alas, Blair passes out from the gas -- or just being plain sick of Tea's histrionics!
Pro Wrestling and the Soaps
Yes, I finally came out this week and admitted that not only do I love and work in soap operas, but I also follow professional wrestling and worked for a short stint as a writer for WWE. It's detailed in my first interview on the very similar yet dissimilar genres at welovesoaps.net . Check it out!
Till next time ...