Soapside: Advocate's Guide to Daytime

By Michael Fairman

Originally published on Advocate.com July 02 2009 12:00 AM ET

Countdown to Forbes March debut on As the World Turns !

The highly anticipated return of Forbes March to daytime is finally here. Look for the former Nash Brennan of One Life to Live to debut on As the World Turns as Noah's film adviser, Mason Jarvis, July 14. Yes, Mason is gay. Would that mean a possible triangle in the future for Nuke and Mason? Here's a preview of what Forbes had to say to about his new role in my upcoming interview with him on my website next week: "Just because there is another gay character does not mean they are going to be bed-hopping. However, there are three points to a triangle. I assume there will be a triangle, because otherwise I am going to be looking for another job in six months."

The actor also tells me some of the reactions he was getting from some close to him.

"You know what's been really weird? The number of people who have been concerned for my wife, which is so bizarre! They keep saying, 'What does your wife think?' Like this should be a real point of concern for her. I mean, she is this bodacious blond, if anybody can attest to my straighthood, it is my wife. Do people think I am going to turn gay? I don't think it works that way!" [ Laughs ]

However, Forbes clarifies that playing gay is something he relishes. "The whole gay thing was not a big deal to me. I thought it would be a chance to play something interesting. A lot of my friends are gay. I did call them and asked, 'How would you like to see a gay person portrayed on TV'? I know it sort of sounds like a kind of a funny question. The consensus was, 'Please! Don't do the campy affected thing.' I have some close friends who are gay and I owe them one."

Otalia Backlash. But Hold on Folks!

I have received numerous e-mails from many upset Otalia fans over the latest plot point in which Natalia finds out she is pregnant from her one night with Frank and goes MIA!

One concerned fan wrote, "They have assassinated Natalia's character. Having her pregnant after a round of unprotected sex and then not realizing it for four-five months just makes her stupid. It is such a stereotypical way to go with a lesbian love story." Another e-mail stated, "Olivia and Natalia have not even kissed after several months in a relationship. And now Natalia is pregnant by creepy Frank."

OK, let's all take a deep breath. I have it on good authority that the story ain't over and there will be a happy ending and this is just another bump in the road. So hang on. It's a soap opera. We have seen this before with lesbian story lines, where one of the gals gets knocked up. And believe me, I am on your side, and I get it, and it's annoying. Now the creative team of Guiding Light has to move the story along since the show goes off the air in three months and reunite Olivia and Natalia before everyone tunes out. OK, I am going to give you next week's Otalia preview. Don't turn off your computers!

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Otalia Watch: Next Week's Preview

Olivia and Doris search for Natalia. Since Natalia is hiding out at a retreat (she went there at the urging of Father Ray), Olivia confronts a mother superior, but the woman won't break confidentiality. Olivia demands that the woman let her inside and cries out Natalia's name and begs her to come out.

Another one bites the dust….

It seems like the launching of gay stories on soaps is weeding out the talent, and not the fans and the viewers! First, Y&R 's Chris Engen (ex-Adam) walked off the set for his reported refusal to do a same-sex kissing scene, and over last weekend came this disturbing story from Daytime Confidential . Confirmed this week by both ABC and One Life to Live, the controversy centers around longtime recurring cast member Patricia Mauceri's (Carlotta) refusal to play a small story point that is not slated to air till August. In it, Carlotta is portrayed as a gay-friendly Latina mother, something the actress reportedly struggled with based on her religious beliefs, and thus she wanted the powers that be to change the script.

In a brand new expose out today by Michael Logan of TV Guide titled: "The Gays of Summer" , Logan spills the beans to what I already knew had gone down between Mauceri and One Life , EP Frank Valentini...."Patricia Mauceri was replaced as matriarch Carlotta Vega after the veteran actress took issue with comedic scenes in which her character finds a book, How Tell Your Parents That You're Gay , and thinks it belongs to her son, Christian. (The book actually belongs to his roommate Fish). The script called for Carlotta to be understanding and supportive of her son's sexuality. Mauceri, who is said to have had religious objections to the story twist, went to OLTL exec producer Frank Valentini and told him she wouldn't perform it as written and that she had reworked a significant amount of the dialogue. Valentini refused to accept Mauceri's changes and quickly replaced her with actress Saundra Santiago."

And replaced she was ... by Saundra Santiago, the "go-to" Latina actress who was last seen on One Life in the role of Isobella Santi. Santiago is also remembered by soap fans as mob boss Carmen Santos on Guiding Light. Advocate.com approached Santiago for an interview on her emergency recast, but her management declined. Santiago reported to the set of One Life on June 26 to play Carlotta. No word yet whether the show plans to keep Carlotta on the canvas, or if Santiago is just a temp. Stay tuned.

Fish and Tell

Coming up on One Life to Live, we will get to see more of Officer Fish's internal struggle come to light. While out on a date with the lovely Layla (they are celebrating Layla's new job as Commissioner Bo Buchanan's administrative assistant), a handsome waiter flirts with Fish, which Layla notices. Later Fish and Layla's roomie, Cristian, press Kyle on his claim that Fish is just using Layla. Also ... look for gay actor Nicholas Rodriguez (best known as Broadway's Tarzan) to debut as Nick, a spoiler in the burgeoning Fish-and-Kyle romance. His first appearance airs August 14.

Rafe and Adam sitting in a tree ... K-I-S-S-I-N-G?

So the big day arrived last week, when soap newcomer Michael Muhney stepped into the shoes of Adam Newman, the role made infamous by Chris Engen. Muhney's first order of acting business: seducing the seemingly gullible Rafe Torres (Yani Gellman) in order to keep him from stumbling upon a box filled with his female wig and a purple sari (worn by Adam in order to "gaslight" Ashley into assuming she saw Victor's dead wife, Sabrina).

Later we see the men (already clothed) gathering themselves together after having offscreen sex. The way Y&R decided to handle this already delicate and controversial plot point of a "straight" man seducing an openly gay character, I thought was good, because this raises a lot of moral issues for some, and I don't want the story killed. There are more machinations by Adam regarding Rafe to come. Wouldn't it be great if Rafe is setting Adam up instead?

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Y&R 's Eileen Davidson, who has played Ashley -- the victim of Adam's horrific gas-lighting techniques -- off and on for several years, spoke to me about Chris Engen's departure, hoping to shed some light to the LGBT community on the 'homophobe' claim that some say precipitated his exit.

"From my experience Chris was never unprofessional. He did seem to have problems with the storyline, and I would see him talking to producers at the end of a tape day. When I found out he was leaving I did talk to him. I said, 'From personal experience I have left shows because I was unhappy (but not in the middle of the contract). I can't judge you for wanting to go, but speaking for myself as a heroine on the show, I would give my eye-teeth to have your storyline. It's such a fabulous character.' Chris did not see it that way, and that's a very personal thing. It was not a good fit between the actor and what happened with his character. I don't believe Chris is a homophobe. I think it's unfair to say that of him. He was having problems with the character long before this homosexual thing came up. I have been here with him every step of the way long before that story point ever came up. I think it was a series of events with Adam killing Ashley's baby that got to him much more than the gay thing. In fact, he had a conversation with Eric Braeden (Victor) two months before, talking about how unhappy he was. I believe Chris was having a hard time wrapping his head around where the character was coming from and where it was going. Also, when he signed on to the show, he did not know he was playing a bad guy. It happened. Who knows? Maybe Chris would have never read for the role if it was playing a bad guy. If you stay somewhere you are not happy, it can make you sick.

Now Eileen's on-screen tormentor is Adam 2.0, played by newcomer Michael Muhney. The Y&R star tells me she checked in with him on his first day at work. "I asked him, How you doing? He said, You know, I am not the type of actor who gets frazzled by things. And I go, Thank God, you are not frazzled. A lot of actors like the instant gratification that daytime gives to you. I always have. Michael experienced that, and I am sure it was a total adrenaline rush for him. Michael is loving playing the part."

Thom Bierdz Reveal Day is Here!

Things go into full gay force next week on The Young and the Restless when gay actor Thom Bierdz -- as Phillip Chancellor III -- reemerges in Genoa City to confront his family ... and makes a shocking confession that will tear the Chancellor family apart! Look for July 7 to be a red-letter day for soap fans. Do not miss these pivotal episodes, which will explain where Phillip III has been for 20 years and why Cane has been posing as him.

Adonis 2009 Top Ten

In a shocker to some, Cameron Mathison (Ryan, All My Chldren ) was the first hunk voted out of the competition. Last week Daytime Emmy nominee for Outstanding Lead Actor Daniel Cosgrove (Bill, Guiding Light ) got the boot. That leaves your top 10. Vote today through July 7. Remember, only one vote per day. Without further adieu, here are your top 10 ( I feel like Ryan Seacrest): Brandon Beemer and Don Diamont ( B&B ), Steve Burton ( GH ), Shawn Christian and James Scott ( Days ), Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann ( ATWT ), Daniel Goddard ( Y&R ), and Mark Lawson and John-Paul Lavoisier ( OLTL ).

Speaking of John-Paul, in my recent interview with him, JP had this to say about a certain wardrobe choice that should garner him some extra votes in the Adonis competition! "I loved the show that aired recently where Rex and Stacy were at the country club and charging things, and they get arrested. After they get arrested and taken to Bo's police station, Rex is handcuffed wearing only his bathing suit in the police station and it's fantastic!" [ Laughs ]

Daytime Emmys Update: Vanessa Williams Hosts, Susan Lucci to Kenya, Pre-Show Announced!

The Daytime Emmys are slated for August 30 in Los Angeles at the Orpheum Theatre with the live telecast to be carried by the CW... with Vanessa Williams as host.

A special segment for the show announced this week will be titled Daytime Gives Back, which will feature three of soaps' biggest stars: All My Children 's Susan Lucci, and General Hospital 's Tony Geary and Kelly Monaco. They will travel to Kenya this month with Feed the Children , an international nonprofit relief organization that supports more than 100,000 children in Kenya's slums. The trio will document their journey with their own cameras as they aid in delivering food and other items to the needy, and their visits to local schools and a center for abandoned infants built by the organization will be filmed as well. Portions of their journey will be shown during the telecast.

In addition, AMC 's executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers has decided to use this opportunity for her soap to incorporate a story line with Erica Kane in Africa, air dates yet to be determined. Erica Kane in Kenya? What will she wear?

Finally, the Daytime Emmys will have a red carpet pre-show airing an hour before the telecast. Given the hosting nods are The Insider 's Lara Spencer and Entertainment Tonight 's Kevin Frazier. Thank goodness our genre gets a pre-show! Can't wait.

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Catfight of the Week

It's just like old times! On yesterday's episode of The Young and the Restless , Jill went after Katherine with both barrels. The argument stemmed from Jill spewing to Katherine all the hurt and anger she is feeling, and that she believes the grand dame of Genoa City hates her ... (it was recently revealed that the two are not biological mother/daughter)! Well, it was enough to make poor Katherine stroke out! And Jill thinks Mrs. C. is faking it for sympathy, but no dice. Katherine did have a mini-stroke. Thanks a lot, Jill!

B&B's and True Blood 's Ashley Jones on the Death of MJ

In closing, as many of us are still in shock from the tragic death of Michael Jackson last week, I conducted an interview for TV Soap Australia with The Bold and the Beautiful 's Ashley Jones (Bridget) who is also currently starring in season 2 of HBO's True Blood as Daphne. I asked the talented Hollywood actress her thoughts on his passing. "There are so many mixed emotions that go along with it. We got to work, and we all knew Farrah Fawcett had died. I got up to my dressing room and I got a text message from my sister about Michael. It seemed so surreal until I was on the way home, and I honestly felt I was going to cry. I felt silly saying that, but a lot of people said they teared up when they heard. But for me, Michael Jackson reminds me of my youth. I remember my first Michael Jackson album. I thought it was the coolest thing I ever had. I remember his song 'PYT,' and all the girls on my street would do the dance. I went to a coffee shop this morning and they were playing 'Human Nature,' and it makes you want to cry. I believe in life after death and your spirit will go on. I hope Michael is looking down going, 'Wow! The whole world is kind of united.' It's kind of what Michael Jackson wanted all along ...to change the world and 'The Man in the Mirror,' and there is no difference between 'Black or White.' I hope he looks down and says, 'I did it.' It's sad."