Congratulations are in order for Jeff Branson (ex-Ronan, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS; Shayne, GUIDING LIGHT) and longtime love Jaimie Foley on the birth of their first child, son Van James. The infant certainly took his time coming into the world, waiting until well past his due date, but now that he's here, the parents couldn't be happier. You can see a pic of the happy family on Twitter by clicking here!
Don't mess with THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS star Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki)! The daytime icon has taken to her Facebook page to slam The Globe for a story printed in its April 7 issue, claiming that, in a phone conversation with another soap opera legend, Susan Lucci (Erica, ALL MY CHILDREN), she said that Y&R isn't a great place to work since executive producer Jill Farren Phelps took over! "Sure, over the year, [Susan and I] have run into each other at events," Scott wrote. "That's it. There was no phone call!"
A Martinez, best known to soap fans as Cruz on the NBC sudser SANTA BABARA, somberly shared the passing of his friend and fellow actor, Dane Witherspoon, 56, on Facebook on March 29. Witherspoon was an original cast member of SANTA BARBARA; he played the wrongly-convicted Joe Perkins, the true love of Kelly Capwell (played by Robin Wright). Witherspoon and Wright were married in real-life from 1986-88.
The actor also played Tyler McCandless on the CBS daytime serial CAPITOL. Martinez wrote the following tribute to his pal on Facebook: "Dane passed this morning. People who watched SANTA BARBARA in its earliest days will remember him as Joe Perkins, a character to which he brought a quiet grace and deep, bittersweet sense of soul. He was a singular, standup guy, loved and admired by many. My first thought, upon meeting him in 1984: 'This is the most beautiful man I've ever seen.' That beauty went all the way to his core."
THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL and THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS co-creator, Lee Phillip Bell, is being honored by The Guild Of Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Greater Los Angeles at its annual Accessories For Success Spring Luncheon And Fashion Show. The event will be held on Friday, April 11, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Heather Tom (Katie, B&B) will be hosting, and the award will be presented to Bell by Doug Davidson (Paul, Y&R) and John McCook (Eric, B&B)
Before the luncheon, luxury accessories will be available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters LA. The luncheon itself features a fashion show from Kyle By Alene Too. If you would like to attend this gala event, tickets are available to the public. Just click here for more information!
There's new romance brewing on Hallmark Channel's period drama WHEN CALLS THE HEART: Jack Wagner (ex-Frisco, GENERAL HOSPITAL) has joined the cast as Mountie Forensic Investigator Bill Avery, and he's bringing the heat! First introduced in last week's episode, Avery arrived on horseback to find out the truth about the deadly explosion in Coal Valley that killed many of the locals, including the husband and son of Abigail Stanton (played by EDGE OF NIGHT's Lori Loughlin, Jody). Might Wagner's character help the shaky widow find her footing? Behind the scenes, it was the other way around. "Lori's an old friend, and a terrific actress," Wagner confides of his scene partner and pal on the Vancouver set. "I play golf with her husband and we've run in the same circles for years."
In "Prelude To A Kiss," the season finale airing Saturday, March 29, at 9:00 p.m. EST, Wagner's character will be back to further pursue Abigail while at the same time, delving deeper into the dangerous mystery. "My character gets beat up while he's at the crime scene by some masked men," Wagner reveals. "So it unfolds to be a real good versus evil situation."
With the fate of the town, as well as Abigail's family name, on the line, the evidence that Avery has collected becomes all-important. Who will triumph? Abigail pins her hope on the visiting Circuit Judge Jedidiah Black (James Brolin), but will she be able to continue living in the small town let alone find love again in the aftermath? "They leave the show with cliffhangers," Wagner says of the possibility of his return. "So hopefully Hallmark will pick it up for a second season!"
While awaiting the birth of his first child this year, Jeff Branson (ex-Ronan, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS; Shane, GUIDING LIGHT) has been keeping himself plenty busy! This weekend, he'll turn up on Lifetime in the thriller, Zoe Gone. "It's about Jennifer, a 16-year-old girl who has a baby (Zoe) with the support of her boyfriend, but the pressure is too much for him and he runs away," Branson offers. "Her mother is a divorcée who's got a boyfriend, which is where I come in. He's the guy who wanted the woman, but not necessarily the child, but took on the role of helping to raise her anyway. But when his gal becomes a grandmother, that wasn't in his plan. There are some moments of him not understanding and lashing out a bit."
The teenager's struggle to acclimate to motherhood and the drama that entails is further complicated by an unexpected twist: Baby Zoe goes missing! "That kicks in the young lady's maternal instincts," Branson relates. "Then the storyline becomes about finding the baby and [Jennifer] proving to herself the mother that she can be."
While Branson is reluctant to give away much more, he did want to praise the film's young star, Sammi Hanratty. "She knew exactly what she wanted to do with the role, and she ran with it right from the beginning!" he enthuses. "I think [the problem of] high school girls having babies and not knowing what to do or not having the support that they thought they would is a relevant topic. The soap fans will relate to it."
Zoe Gone premieres on Saturday, March 29, at 8 p.m. EST on Lifetime. Then you can keep an eye out for Branson's upcoming guest appearances on TNT's PERCEPTION and CBS' NCIS.
James Rebhorn portrayed one of GUIDING LIGHT's most evil villains, but the women who played Bradley's battered wife and step-daughter, Tina Sloan (Lillian) and Judi Evans (Beth), have nothing but fond memories for the actor, who passed away on Friday following a long battle with skin cancer.
"He was too young -- far, far too young," a saddened Sloan tells Soaps In Depth. "He was such a joy to work with and we all loved him, as evil as he was as he portrayed Bradley Raines. Beneath, he was gentle and kind and always professional."
Sloan adds that Rebhorn may have portrayed a monster, but it was exceptionally emotional to watch when Bradley raped Beth in October of 1983. "It was the hardest thing to see him do that scene as he was destroyed that he had to play it," she recalls. "He had two daughters at home whom he adored, but as a consummate professional, he did the most superb performance of destroying Beth."
Thirty hears later, Sloan and her co-stars still get a chuckle when recalling one of Bradley and Lillian's tumultuous scenes. "He had a line we all loved as it was part of the show -- no matter what happened, he'd say 'It's your fault, Lillian! Shut up and get me a beer!' Grant Alexander (Phillip), Judi, Michael O'Leary (Rick) and I would laugh so hard we couldn't reply and Jim would just smile and say the line again. To this day, Grant and I do "the line" when we are together. When Grant and I went to see Jim in a play a few years back, we said "the line" and he chimed in with that great smile.
"He was talented and wonderful and he will be missed by everyone who ever knew him," she concludes. "I feel blessed I played his wife for a few years and, as everyone, send my great sympathy to his real wife and daughters."
Like Sloan, Evans warmly remembers Rebhorn as being "the total opposite of the character. James was such a gentle, sweet man -- that's the proof of what a great actor he was," she tells In Depth. "He could be the funniest, silliest man. I was so blessed to work with him. My first experience [in television] was having Tina and James as parents! You don't get better than that. I learned about dedication to acting through James. He and Larry Gates [who played H.B.] had us rolling in the aisles in the makeup room. They did rap before it was rap. James was always sensitive. He hated having to do what he had to do!"
Actor James Rebhorn died on Friday, March 21, at the age of 65. Rebhorn was a well-known character actor who appeared in films such as Independence Day and Scent Of A Woman as well as TV series like WHITE COLLAR and HOMELAND. But he is best known to daytime fans as AS THE WORLD TURNS' Henry Lange and GUIDING LIGHT's Bradley Raines.
"I am deeply... profoundly saddened to hear of the death of my friend and colleague Jim Rebhorn," Robert Newman (Josh, GL) posted to Facebook. "We first crossed paths in 1984 when he joined the cast of GL to play as he often did, totally against type the role of a brutal, abusive stepfather. Jim was, of course, the nicest man on the planet. Rest well, Jim. You've earned it. Too soon. Too soon by far."
GL's Grant Aleksander (Phillip) shares, "Jim was a wonderful man and a fantastic actor. So sad that he is gone way too soon."
Brooke Sunny Moriber, who played a young Angel on ATWT posted to Facebook: "James may have been the nicest man I have ever worked with. My heart aches that he is no longer with us. He was just the nicest guy you could ever cast as a villain. I remember him actually shaking because it was so difficult for him to embody such an evil character."
Michael O'Leary (Rick, GL), says, "Jim was a man of immense class and dignity. He was a consummate professional, and a gentleman. And I was just in awe of his talent. I'll miss him dearly."
Rebhorn's death comes after a long battle with skin cancer. Our condolences go out to his friends and family, including his wife, Rebecca, and two daughters. You can read the actor's New York Times obituary here. The actor also penned his own obituary during his final days, which was posted by his New Jersey church and can be read here.
*** VOTING HAS CLOSED FOR THIS ROUND ***
Once again, it's time to express your opinions for our Readers' Poll. In the comments section for this article, please respond to the question, and feel free to explain your answer, but remember that any comments here may be considered for publication in the magazine. Any extra comments you have that have nothing to do with this week's poll question should be directed to the Message Boards section of our Web site!
THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL: Do you prefer Ridge with Katie or Brooke?
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Jill Larson (Opal, ALL MY CHILDREN) is returning to soaps for a two-day stint on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS beginning Monday, April 14. The actress will play Connie, a stage manager who'll try to keep things running smoothly during Chelsea's fashion show. The gig reunites her with Pine Valley pals Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea, Y&R; Annie, AMC) and Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe, Y&R; Frankie, AMC).
"Connie's in the middle of all the action," Larson tells Soaps In Depth. "It's a real fun role and when it came along, I said, 'Oh, yeah!' I'm in touch with [Y&R headwriter] Jean Passanante via E-mail, so maybe that's what triggered the idea."
Larson's getting buzz not only for her upcoming Y&R gig, but also for her appearance in the short film First Kiss, which was directed by Tatia Pilieva. Larson was one of 20 artists cast in the indie project, which captures a series of first kisses among strangers.
"I met a man who was working for the clothing company [providing outfits for the film]," Larson recalls. "We got to talking, and I kept looking around wondering who did they call in for me to kiss? Then, I realized it was him! It was very sweet."
First Kiss has gone viral on the Web. Why? Larson believes it's because the film touches on the universal themes, fears and joys that are related to locking lips. "Sometimes when you kiss someone for the first time, you think, 'Do I like this person?' 'Should I get out now?' 'Are we going upstairs?''Do I like him?' 'Does he like me?' 'What are our children going to look like?'" she muses. "The film resonates with people because of its tenderness. It expresses things that we all feel, but don't have the courage to say anymore."
Watch First Kiss by clicking here!