In addition to being a fan of "All My Children," I have been a follower of a blog called "The Pine Valley Bulletin," faithfully written by Kathy Carano, for about 13 years. She is continuing her blog, at least for the time being. It can be found at: http://thepinevalleybulletin.blogspot.com/
Last fall I was fortunate to be able to meet some of my fellow Pine Valley Bulletin fans, including Kathy. As this event was drawing nearer, I asked if anyone was going to see the show in New Brunswick at the State Theater. Angie Dong (pictured on the left with her co-worker and friend, Joyce) said they were going and would I like to meet them for dinner.
After a dinner at Tumulty's on George Street (http://www.tumultys.com/), we walked the two blocks to the State Theater. As luck would have it, we were in the same row of seats, but on the opposite ends.
My seat was fabulous. It was where the rows start to tilt up, plus there was no one in front of me, so I felt like I had a front row seat. I should have moved to the aisle, though as that is where the men of Pine Valley were making their entrances.
Attending the event were: Walt Wiley (Jack), Vincent Irizarry (David), Jacob Young (JR), Darnell Williams (Jesse), Cameron Mathison (Ryan), and Michael E. Knight (Tad). The men were all charming. They swapped behind-the-scene stories, answered questions, and gave the audience a chance to stump them with trivia questions.
Here is where I let guest blogger, Angie Dong, take over for me:
It was apparent how close they all are. They were familiar and very comfortable with each other. No hesitation in putting a hand on another guy's shoulder or knee to express agreement and support.
MEK (Tad) was asked who his favorite pairing for Tad was with besides Dixie. He responded David. VI (David) said the stunt coordinator thanked him several times for putting his daughter through college and his Jaguar due to all the pay he was collecting for all of David's fights. He said he really enjoyed working with Lindsey (Cara) towards the end until Dixie returned.
Cam related how his eldest - like many kids - asked him "Who's your best friend?" He looked at his wife and then responded "Rebecca Budig" (who played his on and off wife, Greenlee on AMC). His wife nodded that she agreed with his answer.
For the most part, everyone was satisfied with the resolutions of their stories. Someone asked MEK (Tad) how many takes it took to get his monologue in the last episode recorded. He said '2'. During the 1st take, he left out a line that was supposed to be VI's (David) cue to enter the scene. At the end of the toast, VI and other people off scene were standing there and saying 'wait, did I miss the cue?" MEK said he got teary during the 1st take as well - the 1st time he's actually really cried in a scene. Alicia (Kendall) was seriously crying from his monologue. All of them had to struggle to hold back tears.
We learned (or re-learned as it had been reported in the magazines a few days ago) in the final scene of the show, JR was supposed to spray the room with gunfire. When filming, they spent a lot of time filming the smoking gun and getting the scene just right. They were all stunned to just hear one shot ring out when they watched the final episode.
Someone asked how much influence they had in their storylines. They agreed that they didn't have much say at all, but they have leeway in how they deliver their lines - as long as they get the point across. MEK (Tad) started cracking up as he recalled reading a script by a bunch of 40 yr old white people writing for the young black from the 'hood Jesse. DW (Jesse) started cracking up too, as he recalled how they write dialogue for him that included the words "Jive Turkey".... MEK was red in the face from laughing."
With regards to Madden in a Box, MEK (Tad) referred to it as the storyline that no one likes to talk about. He really thought the storyline was out of character, but it was challenging.
On a more positive note, VI (David) said he was proudest of his work during the Baby Leora storyline, but it was totally emotionally draining.
Jacob (JR) loved all the storylines involving Babe, but no one asked him which one, and of course working with David Canary (Adam).
Cam (Ryan) loved the Kendall-Ryan-Greenlee triangle.
MEK's (Tad) favorite scene was when he and John Callahan dressed in drag - everyone agreed that JC (Edmund) was a very ugly female.
DW (Jesse) also said that he was scratching his head over how quickly Jesse switched bye babies. DW's favorite story was Jesse's return from the dead.
Great stories about Ruth Warwick (Pheobe), "Myrtle' and "Langley". Apparently, 'Langley' grew some great pot - he gave one of them (can't remember who) a joint and told him to sit down while smoking it - smoker claimed that he sat on the sofa high all weekend from a couple of puffs.
They were asked how they adjusted to the move out West. VI (David), MEK (Tad) and DW (Jesse) all claim that NY is 'Home'. VI said that, as an actor, he's bi-coastal. For years he worked on Y&R on the West Coast while his family stayed out East. When he got the chance to work with AMC, he loved the opportunity to be with his family. When he rejoined AMC this last time, he was stunned that the show was moved out West after 39+ years and kinda annoyed that he had to do the bi-coastal thing again.
DW (Jesse) said that his career has always been bi-coastal.
JY (JR) was originally from out west, but really loves NY and met his wife here - so, it is home, too.
Walt's (Jack) family live in a small town outside of Santa Fe. So, the move out West worked well for him since he was a 2 hr direct flight home, instead of a 7 hr flight with a transfer.
CM (Ryan) tried to say he was an East Coaster, too, but his co-workers teased him mercilessly for trying to pull one over on us. CM is from Canada. Perhaps, the east coast of Canada, but not a New Yorker, eh.
MEK (Tad) mentioned that his insurance adjuster is on his speed dial. As a New Yorker, his biggest adjustment to moving to LA was needing to drive... the SUV he drives exhibits his driving skills.
First part of the evening was Q&A. Walt mentioned that the NJ crowd had it together - most people said 'this question is for all of you', whereas the NYC crowd directed their questions to just 1 of the 6. During the first part of the program, Cam (Ryan) went up to the balcony area to get questions (which is why I (Jacquie) did not end up with any good pictures of him alone), while first Walt (Jack) and then Darnell (Jesse) walked through the audience in the Orchestra section. LOL - Walt (Jack) stumbled a little bit on my (Angie's) foot.
One segment of the show had the audience asking one of the 6 a trivia question about one of their storylines. If the actor couldn't remember, the audience member got a prize.
Results were varied, especially since some of the audience members didn't know the answer to their own questions. Samples:
Jacob (JR) - How many siblings (half and whole) does JR have?
Darnell (Jesse) - What was his mother-in-law's name?
Walt (Jack) - who was initiated the hate crime against Stuart's wife Cindy? (that was the intended question - the audience member mangled it.)
MEK (Tad) - who paid Tad to date Dottie?
Walt (Jack) - how many husbands does Erica have, and can you name them all?
During the last segment they answered some questions they had prepared in advance.
One was about the fickleness of Fame.... MEK (Tad) remembered going to Disneyland with Maurice Bernard (Nico at the time) while out West for a fan event. He was speaking with MB and noticed a couple approaching them. When the guy extended his camera, MEK responded with 'sure'... continued to speak with MB while putting his arm around the woman and giving her a peck on the cheek. Then, he realized that the man was from Germany was asking him to take a picture of himself and his wife - he did not want a picture with MEK at all!
VI (David) recalls a time 14 years before starting with All My Children when he was supposed to do a fan event. The night before he got very drunk and missed his wake up call. The limo driver knocked on his door and reminded him it was beyond time to go. He took a quick shower and went downstairs only to find the very famous James Mitchell (Palmer on AMC) waiting in the cab. I cannot do justice to the story, but suffice it to same JM made a snide comment about it being no trouble waiting for him (the young upstart). 14 years later they were both on AMC. VI went to introduce himself to JM (really hoping he had forgotten the situation). It was clear JM had not forgotten, even though it had been 14 years earlier. The two ended up becoming close.
WW (Jack) recalled being on the show as an extra about 40-50 times before being cast as Jack. He said they felt sorry for him and finally created the role of Jack so he could stick around a while. He remembers auditioning for other roles, but not that one.
CM (Ryan) related how he was with AMC for a short time and was in a dept store with his then-girlfriend. It was just after the episodes aired where Ryan was cleared of raping Jack's sister Kit. A woman was riding the escalator and saw him and screamed "RYAN!!" He looked up and waved like celebrity. Then, the woman proceeded to yell out "I'm so glad they let you out of prison!!!"
DW said he was with Debbie Morgan (Angie) once in the movies when they were on AMC the first time (in the early 1980s). He could hear murmurings throughout the theater ("is that them?" "is that Jesse and Angie?"). He took DM by the hand and said "RUN!!!" The two of them were surprised to see fans chasing them down the streets of NYC.
A few more thoughts from Angie (I don't want to lose any thoughts from that night as it was just amazing):
Of course there was also talk about AMC moving to the internet through Prospect Park in January. (TOLN.com) As a group they were fairly mum, though excited about the project. JY (JR) let it slip that his role on "The Young and the Restless" is a short-term contract. Thus implying he could be on AMC in January when it starts airing again.
Each told us what is happening in their lives:
Walt (Jack) has a traveling comedy show called Wiled and Willey (http://www.willeyworld.com/)
Cam (Ryan) recently shot a movie in Canada and sometimes hosts on Good Morning America. He has signed up with Prospect Park.
Darnell (Jesse) is auditioning.
Jacob (JR) is on "Young and the Restless" with a short-term contract.
Vincent (David) is auditioning.
Michael (Tad) is scared because he doesn't know what the future holds.
They are all excellent story tellers, even without scripts in front of them. The two hours flew by. I half-wished I had upgrade (another $150 dollars) to stay a couple of more hours in a more intimate setting, but was also glad to go home.
A few more pictures:
Jacob Young (JR)Vincent Irizzary (David)
Cameron Mathison (Ryan)Darnell Williams (Jesse)