Soapside: Advocate 's Guide to Daytime

By Michael Fairman

Originally published on Advocate.com June 04 2009 12:00 AM ET

For those awaiting the return of Lauralee Bell (Christine) to The Young and the Restless now that Thom Bierdz and Tricia Cast are back on the canvas, it may be sooner than you think. But first you can find her online starting next Monday in her new Web series, Family Dinner , co-starring Phyllis Diller and Dan Cortese. In it Bell portrays a dysfunctional mom whose ambition is to be on Oprah, and what goes on at the dinner table is anything but your normal family gathering.

Bell says she had a "gay ol' time" on the set.

"When we wrapped up Family Dinner, one of the men who helped edit the show said, 'I just want to thank you. Not only was this the best experience, but this was the gayest crew I have ever worked with ... 99% except for you and your husband, Scott.' And I said, 'They were the most talented, fun, and brilliant group, and whenever we shoot more episodes this is the group we are having back. In fact, our website guy and editor left last weekend to ride in the AIDS/LifeCycle San Francisco to Los Angeles, and I gave them huge checks, and I made them Family Dinner T-shirts for their cross-state challenge."

In Advocate.com's recent interview with Thom Bierdz, the gay actor admitted he believes he may have come out to his former costar, Bell, at a very awkward time, but his recollection remains murky. In response, Lauralee told me, "Sure, I had a crush on him, and probably when I was working with Thom I was 15 or so. I am about as open as they come, and I think there are a lot of women who are quite hot myself. When you work on a soap, you learn so many lines and work so fast ... and so my recollection is not so good, but I felt we did have the talk. I almost feel it was when we were toward the end of our stay on the show. And if it was, as I say, he knew it would be such a nonissue to me. I am so glad Maria Arena Bell [head writer and co-executive producer of Y&R ] has brought him back, and it should hopefully be a story line where everyone learns from it. I wish Thom could get married on the show to a man. It would be so great! We need that."

And what of a possible return for Lauralee to Y&R ? The actress teased me, "I think it's understood with the right time and the right people, I would, and with Thom and Tricia back ... my curiosity piques more and more."

Read the full interview with Lauralee on my MichaelFairmanSoaps.com this coming Monday, June 8, and the same day, make sure to watch the premiere episode of Family Dinner at FamilyDinnerOnline.com .

The Engen Who Couldn't -- UPDATE!

So since the last column, Chris Engen, the dearly departed Adam Newman of Y&R, posted what he calls his "Statement to the Public" on his MySpace page last week. In the end, he said, his walkout had nothing to do with homophobia.

Chris Engen x390 (sony) | advocate.com

"I just felt generally unhappy about my contribution to the show, and had greater and greater difficulty making any sense of the challenges they were asking me to face. If that makes me a limited actor, then so be it," Engen (pictured) wrote.

So for a limited actor, kissing another man was then quite the acting challenge?

Soap Star Speaks Out on Prop. 8

The sensational Nancy Lee Grahn and I chatted about the California supreme court's decision to uphold the anti-gay-marriage measure Prop. 8. The very inspiring and political actress -- who plays legal eagle Alexis Davis on General Hospital -- shared her thoughts. "Today was a sad today in California, because the court did not overturn the ban. So you are not allowed to get married here right now if you are gay. I don't get that ... never will. I think that's insane. Remember once the Constitution said women couldn't vote. So this is one of the things that needs to be changed."

Speaking of change, Nancy has a newly aged on-screen daughter who debuted today in the body of actress Lexi Ainsworth. "Kristina was 6, and now she is 16 years old and she apparently gets into trouble all the time." But what did Nancy think when the powers that be decided to give SORAS (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome) to her on-screen offspring?

"My thought was OK. They are rapidly aging her. Better her than me [ laughs ]. Then I get all this practice of a daughter who thinks I am an idiot, and apparently I am an idiot because Alexis is oblivious, because apparently Kristina is a bit of a ho!" [ Laughs ]

Otalia Watch - This Week

Natalia's son, Rafe, can't become a cop and needs a job since he got out of prison. Natalia got defensive about Rafe and Olivia to Father Ray ... and then Father Ray suggested she doesn't have strong enough feelings for Olivia if she can't tell Rafe the truth about them. Olivia had to apologize to Natalia for not being patient about Rafe. Rafe is becoming a problem in the dynamic duo's relationship and becoming a buzz kill!

Next Week's Preview

Olivia and Natalia admit they miss being together. Rafe watches unseen as Natalia gets close to Olivia. Natalia and Olivia have the talk about sex. Rafe waits for an explanation, as the women are unaware that he saw them.

FORBES MARCH X390 (ABC SCREEN GRAB) | ADVOCATE.COM

Another Soaper Comes Out

In an exclusive interview with AfterElton.com , former Days of Our Lives teen heartthrob Wesley Eure (ex-Michael Horton) has officially come out. In the feature Eure also discloses his onetime relationship with Richard Chamberlain and discusses the prospect of them coming forward about their romantic pairing.

"It wasn't an option. But again, we'd go out with my friends from Days of Our Lives, we'd double-date with the girl who was playing my girlfriend and her husband, but it was always boy-girl. Richard and I had a great time together. When it was over, it was enormously sad. I was brokenhearted. I remember we broke up and I was on Days of Our Lives; I couldn't stop shaking. The good news is, my character on Days of Our Lives was in a very traumatic situation in the script, so it required being depressed, down ... crying, all that stuff. So it fortunately timed out great. God bless the makeup artists; they came in and did my makeup in the room. I was not ready to cope with it, but I moved on."

Father Knows Best?

Don't miss a very special Father's Day interview come early on Monday -- on-screen father and son and best buds Paolo Seganti (Damian) and Van Hansis (Luke) talk to The Advocate. So how do you go from sending your gay son to a deprogramming camp to reaching acceptance? And what's in store for unlucky Luciano? Find out next week. And hearts went aflutter recently when it was announced that the former Nash Brennan of One Life, Forbes March (pictured), is coming to Oakdale and As the World Turns July 14 when he debuts as Noah's film adviser ... and yes, he too is playing gay!

Help Eden Write One Bitchy Speech!

Well, at least this one is easier to figure out than how to unscramble the Bianca-Reese mess ... Daytime Confidential 's BSS (Best Soap Star) and Advocate.com favorite Eden Riegel (Bianca, All My Children ) is getting ready to accept her People's Voice Webby Award on Monday, June 8, for her breakout turn in the Web series Imaginary Bitches. Eden is only allowed five words for her acceptance speech, and so the brain trust at IB asked fans to submit entries, and the top five are currently being voted on! Hurry and cast your vote. I am sure many of you have uttered these nominated words on your climb to stardom in the big city! 1. A victory for bitches everywhere; 2. I'm sleeping with the director; 3. I never envied haiku before; 4. Drinks on me. Meet at ... ; 5. One small step for bitches.

Scene-stealer of the Week

Yesterday's episode of One Life to Live was a reminder why Erika Slezak (Viki) has a record six Daytime Emmy awards as Lead Actress, with the long-awaited, highly anticipated showdown with her daughter's multiple personalities, Bess. (And where else but in daytime can you have a mother-daughter duo who both suffer from dissociative identity disorder?) You see -- Jessica's alternate personality had run away with the baby she switched at birth. Now family and friends discovered the awful truth ... that she was indeed Starr's baby girl, and Jessica's baby was stillborn. But poor Jessica could not face the truth. Enter Viki, who finds a way to bring her daughter back from Bess to Jess, to admit that her baby died. It was gut-wrenching with a capital G. And, I have to say, kudos also to Bree Williamson (Jessica) for the final few minutes of the episode where she let it all out! Hankies! This was soaps at its best! View the final minutes here!

Shawn Christian X390 (SOAP.NET SCREEN GRAB) | ADVOCATE.COM

My Night With Days

I spent last Saturday night at the Days of Our Lives fan weekend charity event for leukemia and lymphoma and hung out with Danloe, Chloe and Dr. Daniel (That would be the beautiful Nadia Bjorlin and Shawn Christian, pictured at right). It's such an interesting commentary that most of the fans in attendance told me how much they are rooting for these on-screen adulterers to get together. One is lying and cheatin' on her hubby, and the other sleeps with or wants to sleep with, almost every woman in Salem! Also on hand were Nadia's real-life beau, B&B 's Brandon Beemer (pictured below), and her Days costars James Scott, Eric Martsolf, Shelley Hennig, and Jay Kenneth Johnson.

During the night, I had the pleasure of meeting Days ' newest heartthrob, Mark Hafka, whose appearances in the newly created role of Nathan Horton start airing June 17. Who is Nathan Horton? The son of Melissa Horton and Pete Jannings, but of course. When did they have a son? God knows! Here is Marky Mark Hafka from OhlalaMag.com, and here is my photo gallery from the event!

BRandon Beemer XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

Catfight of the Week

Special thanks this week to David Adam Nole, who shared a recent posting on the website Time After Time/Soap World of Catfights to Remember .

David e-mailed, "This is something missing in daytime these days." Check some of these hair-tugging, mud-slinging, jaw-dropping battles between the likes of Days of Our Lives ' Marlena and Kristen, General Hospital 's Carly and Sam, The Bold and the Beautiful 's Lauren and Sheila, Y&R 's Katherine and Jill, and All My Children 's Erica and Natalie ... quite the video gallery, if you are into that sort of thing.

Adonis 2009 Semifinal Week Four

The hunks from Llanview go up against the studs from Genoa City in this last semifinal round for the Adonis 2009 competition. Voting starts today and goes through June 9. Who will you choose from One Life to Live ? Will it be John Paul Lavosier (Rex), David Fumero (Christian), or Mark Lawson (Brody)? And from The Young and the Restless, might we suggest Joshua Morrow (Nick), Daniel Goddard (Cane), or Thad Luckinbill (JT)? Make sure to cast your vote. You can cast only one vote a day, so make it count .