February 28, 2014: 'Beacon Hill' Has the Ingredients to Become A Web Super Soap - Frontiers LA
February 28, 2014: A Who's Who Guide for Beacon Hill - Soaps In Depth
February 15, 2014: The Sarah Brown Interview - Beacon Hill - michaelfairmansoaps.com
February 7, 2014: Political Scandal Set To Rock BEACON HILL! Watch The Latest Promo! - michaelfairmansoaps.com
February 6, 2014: New ‘Beacon Hill’ Trailer: ‘Discreet is My Middle Name’ - Soap Opera Network
January 30, 2014: The John-Paul Lavoisier Interview – Beacon Hill - michaelfairmansoaps.com (excerpt)
January 19, 2014: Will Alicia Minshew and Sarah Brown Find Love on Beacon Hill? - SoapCentral.com
January 16, 2014: Scott Bryce Previews BEACON HILL on WE LOVE SOAPS - WeLoveSoaps.com
January 9, 2014: Soap Stars Move to BEACON HILL - CBS Soaps In Depth
January 9, 2014: Alicia Minshew Previews BEACON HILL on WE LOVE SOAPS - WeLoveSoaps.com
January 8, 2014: Crystal Chappell and Tina Sloan Preview BEACON HILL on WE LOVE SOAPS - WeLoveSoaps.com
January 6, 2014: Exclusive: Crystal Chappell Dishes Her Newest Web Series, Beacon Hill - Michael Logan, TV Guide
August 6, 2013: AE's dishy interview with soap star and producer Crystal Chappell - Dana Piccoli, AfterEllen.com (excerpt)
July 5, 2013: Ricky Paull Goldin Joins 'Beacon Hill' as a Producer
Take two rival families in the political arena (yup, one is Republican and the other Democrat), sprinkle in some double-crossing and secrets, and mix that up with a same-sex romance between women who come face-to-face with each other after six years (which sparks the fire between them all over again), and what do you get? No, not Dallas, and not The West Wing or Scandal, but a recipe for the hottest new web series with a gay twist, Beacon Hill.
Premiering this coming Wednesday, March 5, at noon, the first of 12 episodes features a cast of beloved names from the daytime soap genre, written by real-life married couple Linda and Jessica Hill. The duo has entered the wild world of the web after years of being the top book publishers of lesbian fiction with their shingle, BellaBooks. Now in their first foray into producing, Bella Productions has teamed with LGBT favorite Crystal Chappell and her Open Book Productions, which already has a proven track record of bringing same-sex themed web soaps—such as Venice and The Grove—to an under-represented and loyal audience. Through Chappell, Beacon Hill was able to nab the likes of three-time Daytime Emmy winner Sarah Brown, All My Children favorite Alicia Minshew, former One Life to Live hottie John-Paul Lavoisier and more banner names to star in this collaboration.
At the epicenter of Beacon Hill is the love story of Sara Preston, a reporter (played by Minshew) and budding Senator Katherine Wesley (played by Brown).
Frontiers spoke to the gals about their characters’ back-story, and about Brown overcoming her fears of kissing another woman for the first time, let alone on-screen!
“Sara gets a phone call that her grandfather had a stroke, and when she gets back to Beacon Hill, she realizes her ex-girlfriend Katherine just got a seat in the Senate,” explains Minshew. “Sara comes back and bumps into Katherine for the first time in six years. Sara wants to pick up where they left off. Katherine is saying, ‘How can we pick up where we left off? You left me and you haven’t spoken to me in six years.’ She has a point! [Laughs] There is also a bit of does my character really want to be with her again, or does she want to get a good story?”
Sarah Brown, known for her fierce portrayals of Carly Corinthos and Claudia Zacchara on General Hospital, admitted she had some reticence in playing gay for the first time. “I felt a lot of pressure when Crystal put the script in my lap and I read it,” she reveals. “I told her I wanted to do the role, but I wondered if I could pull it off, because I wanted to do it in such a way that my gay female friends would call me up and say, ‘Sarah, that’s hot!’ I know I saw this controversy on the news recently, where in this film they had two straight actors playing gay, and people online were saying, ‘Oh, it’s so not realistic. They are not really attracted to each other.’ And, of course, this is coming out while I am filming Beacon Hill. So I thought, ‘No way, I am going to get roasted!’ I wanted to make my gay friends proud so they will hopefully watch the series, and make the writers proud of me to be able to do this type of role justice.”
And speaking of justice to the roles, as creator Jessica Hill explains, there was some backlash to the casting of straight actors playing gay. “When I was talking to Crystal about casting, I said, ‘At the end of the day, I don’t care what they look like.' I am not going to get into the whole Is she a ‘femme’? Does she have long hair or short hair? What I wanted to know is, will the actress be truthful in what she is representing? So that if you are watching her as the character in the moment, regardless of how she looks, you believe that she is gay. It’s like this: If I find the right actor for the part, whether you are gay or straight, we are going to hire them.”
When all was said and done, Brown came through with flying colors for the sex scenes and the kisses, as executive producer Chappell (pictured below) relates. “The characters have sex in the first episode. I know what’s important, please! [Laughs] It’s a beautiful scene, and that is not always easy for actors to do. I remember we did these kissing scenes at this outdoor café, and Sarah yelled, ‘This was my first girl kiss!’ We all applauded and went, ‘Alright!’ [Laughs] Sarah is fine now ... we got her!” [Laughs]
But can a web series about two successful women in love click? Hill relates, “We hope so! I am a successful businesswoman. I am out there in the world. I don’t every day ponder the drama of being gay, I just am. I wanted to tell the story of professional and successful women who had their own issues with their family and careers, and oh, they are also gay.”
As for a preview of what viewers can expect, Chappell summed it up best. “It’s set in Boston, with romance, politics and the characters are clearly defined. You know who the bad guys are on one side, and you’ve got the good guys on the other—and there are some people in the middle, and there is some ambiguity. I can say Beacon Hill is good soap!”
For more on Beacon Hill and to view the episodes, log on to the series website at beaconhilltheseries.com. The series uses a subscription-based model, so with a purchase of $9.99 you can view the entire season.
Next Wednesday, March 5, marks the launch of an exciting new Web soap, BEACON HILL! New media pioneer Crystal Chappell (Dani, THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL; Olivia, GUIDING LIGHT, etc.) is part of the team behind the drama, which centers on two Boston families at opposite ends of the political spectrum.
With political rivalries, romances gone bad, blackmail and family dysfunction, BEACON HILL has all the makings of a must-see series! In anticipation of the show's premiere, Soaps In Depth chatted up some of the top players in the drama for the scoop!
Alicia Minshew (Sara Preston)
"Sara left the love of her life, Kate, for this reporting job, and the break-up was painful. She's now come back to Beacon Hill for a job and bumps into Kate, so it's reigniting feelings. There are issues with Sara and her grandfather, whom Kate is now working with, and she has a tumultuous relationship with her mother, who is a drinker. She's trying to be a good reporter but stay true to her family. Everything kind of gets mixed up and muddled!"
Sarah Brown (Katherine "Kate" Wesley)
"When Crystal sent me the script, I read all 12 episodes and called her immediately. I originally wanted to play the character of Sara -- I understood where she's coming from. But Katherine ended up being much more of a challenge. I love every bit of this."
Scott Bryce (Senator Tom Wesley, Katherine's father)
"I'm a conservative Republican Senator, and my daughter -- who is gay -- is running for the House Of Representatives. That's the real problem! The fact that she's a left-wing liberal is really troublesome. The game we're playing is trying to support her, be the loving dad, but control her politically and try to keep a handle on her."
Ron Raines (Senator William Preston, Sara's grandfather)
"He is a very controlling, powerful man in Washington, from the state of Massachusetts. And even though he's in bed recovering from a stroke, he has plans, politically, for his family."
Crystal Chappell (Claire Preston, Sara's mother)
"It's a fun character to play. This is the first time I've taken on something like this. Claire's husband is gone, so she's pretty isolated. My feeling is that her husband couldn't tolerate her family because her father gets what he wants."
Melissa Archer (Evelyn Preston, William's wife)
"I'm a trophy wife! Her values can be questionable, but she's as sincere as she can possibly be. She just wants to be loved and doesn't know how to find it. She comes into the show toward the end of the season. When you see her, what you think it's going to be to versus what you see when she's actually there is interesting."
Jessica Morris (Diane Hamilton, Sara's current partner)
"Diane is an actress, and feels insecure because she thinks that Sara still loves Katherine. Diane wants to support Sara [through her family crisis], but she's listening to that voice in her gut that something isn't right."
Louise Sorel (Emily Tanner) and Tina Sloan (Louise Cassell)
"We own this coffee shop where all we seem to do is gossip. I think maybe once, I served a muffin! We tend to be the voice of what everybody is up to," says Sloan. Adds Sorel, "We want to know everything that's going on!"
All 12 ad-free episodes of the first season will be available on www.beaconhilltheseries.com for just $9.99. New episodes will be put on-line each Wednesday. All major credit cards and Paypal will be accepted, and even if you subscribe after the first episode, all previous installments will be made available once you've paid.
February 19, 2014 - michaelfairmansoaps.com
Crystal Chappell Interview: How She Landed An All-Star Soap Cast To Play Dirty Politics In Beacon Hill!
What’s a Daytime Emmy winner and soap opera fan favorite actress, who also is one of the web’s most innovative, savvy and cutting-edge producers about to present to her legions of fans now? How about a political drama mixed with a same-sex romance and plenty of familial dysfunction that boasts probably the most exciting cast list of soap all-stars! In her latest endeavor, Chappell has teamed with Linda and Jessica Bell from Bella Books and Bella Productions to bring their script and vision to life in Beacon Hill, which is set to begin streaming its first episode on March 5th on the series website!
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with the hardworking Chappell to find out how she set out to cast the series which features: Sarah Brown and Alicia Minshew in the leading roles of Katherine and Sara, and features a supporting cast that includes Chappell in a role unlike any other she has taken on, former OLTL favorites Melissa Archer, John-Paul Lavoisier, and Ron Raines, Crystal’s former DAYS nemesis, Louise Sorel, and Beacon Hill co-producer and former All My Children and Guiding Light favorite, Ricky Paull Goldin … and that’s just for starters!
During our conversation, Crystal shared some gems about what went down behind the scenes to bring Beacon Hill to life, and why the decision was made to go with a subscription model for season one of the new series. In addition, she gives us a preview of what’s to come when viewers get swept up in the dirty politics, intrigue, heartbreak, and passion that make up the framework of the story.
Once you got the script, how long did it take you to cast the actors to play the characters in Beacon Hill? Did you go at it with a wish list?
I was working with Bella Books on this project and this is their production, too. Both Linda and Jessica are daytime fans, which is great! In terms of casting, the role of Katherine was the hardest one for me to cast in terms of making sure I had the right actress. In my younger days, that is a role that I would have played because the character of Sara is more of a liberal free-flowing writer who is all about the people. Katherine is a politician, and there is a way you have to conduct yourself. Sarah Brown just has the voice, the face, and her acting chops are at such a high level. Originally, when I spoke to her she said, “Well, I really resonate with the character of Sara.” I said, “I need you for Kate, because there aren’t many actresses who can fit this role physically, but can also play that corporate and political character and command it.” We have to believe this woman is capable of taking the senate seat, and so I had to find a formidable actress who when she stood up to say what she had to say, the floor is listening.
So then, what did you say to Alicia Minshew about her being cast in the role of Sara?
I said to her, “You’re going to play a reporter and you are willowy!” (Laughs) I just ran everything by Linda and Jessica and they were in agreement. But it did take some time for us to cast this.
Being that you were not a writer on Beacon Hill, what did you think of the script?
When I first read the script, I liked it very much. The scenes were very short originally, and it’s all there. However, it wasn’t until we were in production that I saw the performances coming out. And especially when you are watching the rough cut, it just holds, there are no drop spots. You have to sit and you have to listen. There are beautiful performances in it, and there is story there.
In Beacon Hill, you play Claire, the mother of Sara (Alicia Minshew) and Eric (John Paul Lavoisier). This role is quite the departure for you in terms of the character you play, and you play older! How was that to pull off? What can you tell the fans about Claire as they begin to go on the journey of this story?
Claire was raised by Ron Raines character, Senator Preston. There is a sense of propriety that a political family has to take on and preserve. Claire is a recluse. She left because she can’t handle her father, but she is sort of maintaining what needs to be maintained. She sits alone and drinks, but she has secrets that are going to reveal themselves this season. There is something behind door number one. She is very complex. Claire is resigned to the life that she is living, and one of the things she wanted to do was get her children out of the family and out of the house. I aged myself in this. It’s very funny. I had make-up put lines on my face. It was a total defeat of Botox! (Laughs) So now they are drawing the lines on me, and I went with very little make-up, and I went with very tight hair. (Laughs) I said, “I don’t have a wardrobe to go with this.” Hillary B. Smith is from Boston and so she dressed me! All the clothes you see me wear are her clothes. You also have got to have the pearls, and you have got to have a pin. Hillary would sit there and dress me. I started doing the character and she started calling me, “Mummy”. She said it reminded her of her mother. (Laughs) So, she still calls me “Mummy!”
Maybe, one of Claire’s secrets is that she is a lesbian?
Well, you never know! I am going out of my comfort zone with this role. (Laughs) I have been playing lesbians for so long that I don’t know how to play other kinds of roles anymore! (Laughs)
You have had much success with Venice and The Grove that have both had a same-sex love story at the center of it. And now, so does Beacon Hill. Have you ever thought, what if the fans don’t get behind these shows anymore?
Always, sure. Venice came off of Otalia. That seemed the logical thing to do, plus I was wanted to produce. I wanted to do Venice because of my horrible dissatisfaction with the knuckle-touching on Guiding Light, although I am very good at it now. (Laughs) So that sort of took on a life of its own. The Grove was born out of the reality that I might not be able to do another season of Venice, due to the split in the business with it, and then Beacon Hill came along. I get approached by all different kinds of projects now. I have a comedy that I acquired that is about a father and his daughter. There is other stuff coming down the pike that will embody all types of people, but yes, there have been moments where I don’t know where things are heading. For Beacon Hill, I am partnering with Bella. This is their show. They are the money people. I am hired to make this production happen for them.
As had been a staple in your other projects, Venice and The Grove, should the lesbian fan base expect a hot sex scene at the beginning of Beacon Hill featuring Alicia and Sarah
They will in the first episode. I know what’s important, please! (Laughs) It’s a beautiful scene and that is not always easy for actors to do. Alicia and Sarah are both professional and kind women, and came and did this project for not their normal day rate, but believed in it. They signed on and then did beautiful work together. Sarah had told me she had never done an on-screen girl kiss before. I remember we did these kissing scenes at this outdoor café and she yelled, “This was my first girl kiss!” We all applauded and went, “Alright!’ (Laughs) Sarah is fine now … we got her! (Laughs)
You have clued us into the background of who Claire is. But what should fans expect who have seen you front and center in your other web series? Are you in more of a supporting role in Beacon Hill?
This season I am in more of a supporting role, I would say. This is character work for me, and as I get older I kind of want to challenge myself that way. This is a very different character for me to play. It’s one of those things where I am watching the rough cuts, and I can see points where it may not be quite right for the character. I am thinking, “Am I being too stiff here?” I relay on people like Hillary to tell me if I am getting that. Am I getting that Bostonian regal political family vibe? I am certainly not that in real life! (Laughs)
Tell me about your amazing producing team of familiar faces from daytime and what they brought to the production of Beacon Hill? Of course, I am talking about the fabulous Hillary B. Smith and Mr. Ricky Paull Goldin!
Hillary and I have been friends for a long time and have always wanted to produce. I will say this: I have great admiration for producers. Everyone can be a Monday morning quarterback. I certainly have been one, and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize (laughs) like I knew anything at all! You learn. Hillary sat on The Grove on the monitor. She has a great directorial eye. She is my perfect supervising producer. Working with her had made my job so much easier, and it takes it off my plate. I said to her, “You f-ing bitch! I wanted to be a director!” The whole idea was I wanted to learn how to direct, but she is so much better at it! So I went, “It’s yours.” With Ricky Paull Goldin … I called and I told him I have this part for him in Beacon Hill of Andrew. His character is this slimy, wormy assistant of Katherine’s. He made my skin crawl and not in a good way. (Laughs). Ricky is able to make the character charming, but he has some shady dealings going on. Ricky is very organized in real life. He dresses well and he has taste. He has different skills and different people he brings to this show and the company. Ricky has been terrific. He had a cold the entire week of production, and he had just lost his mother who passed away suddenly. So, we just held him, but he was just a pro in every way. He stayed on monitor when he wasn’t feeling well. Hilary and I joke that Ricky has this magical quality where he can get any chick to make him a cup of tea! I swear to God! We would walk into a room and see a girl saying to Ricky, “Do you want honey with that?” (Laughs) It’s a good team. One of the things we have been discussing through Ricky; is putting together a pilot. So he has hooked me up with his people to re-edit Beacon Hill, because it can hold in a longer version because of the content in it.
Let’s talk about a few of the other casting choices in Beacon Hill. Why did you choose Melissa Archer for the role of Evelyn? I think I know!
For the part of Evelyn you need a nice combination. You needed a good actor in the part, but you also needed someone who could play that brassy girl from the others side of the tracks, but who also has a heart underneath it. From what I had seen of Melissa’s work as Natalie on One Life to Live, she can play the schemer, but I have also seen her play what’s underneath it. Melissa is the type of girl you want to hang out in a saloon with and have a couple of shots! (Laughs) She has that vibe. So it works very well with the other characters. For instance, Alicia is willowy as I said, and very put together, and you kind of just want to dance with her! (Laughs) It’s a nice contrast.
How did you come to think of John-Paul Lavoisier for the role of Eric Preston
I was in Maine at Hillary’s place in July. I needed to cast the character of Eric, who is Alicia Minshew’s brother in Beacon Hill. Hillary mentioned John-Paul. I knew his work from One Life to Live and thought it was such a great idea. So we sent him an email and made him an offer, and he accepted, and I am so happy he did. John-Paul is such an interesting actor and you can’t just put your finger on it. He can command story which is important, but you don’t always know what you are getting, and it works perfectly with his character and like most of the characters in Beacon Hill. Eric comes across as being very supportive of his sister Sara, but there is something else that is going on.
Once again you are charging viewers a $9.99 subscription fee, and going with that model for the run of the first season of Beacon Hill. Why the decision to continue with the subscription format?
I think it’s been very useful. People are doing that anyway on online platforms such as on Hulu Plus. Ideally, it would be great to have advertising and give the show a way for free online. There is going to be a fee somewhere for viewing programming online such as Netflix does. Ideally, it would be great to have our shows be ad supported, which some doors are opening there for us, and it would be great to have a proper amount of marketing behind it. I feel very strongly that the subscription model is the way to go at this point.
So many Indiegogo and Kickstarter crowd funding campaigns have emerged from soap actors and other talents, who are looking for fans to contribute financial donations to their projects. Do you ever think, or get concerned, that stars are in a way prostituting their fan bases in order to make their passion projects?
I am just aware that I don’t want to over exploit the generosity that they have given me. People have asked me to re-tweet something and if it’s really important to a friend of mine, I will certainly do it. I don’t want to be taking advantage of a very generous fan base. That is an honest answer. But I do think if you are going to start your own project, you do reach out to people who support you. Hopefully, you have that fan base to help make your dreams come true, and they want to be part of the process too. I have seen a lot of people be very successful with it.
What do you want to say to the fans on why they should watch Beacon Hill? What’s your pitch … in a few sentences? (Laughs)
There is great talent in it. It’s Boston, romance, politics and the characters are clearly defined. You know who the bad guys are on one side and you’ve got the good guys on the other – and there are some people in the middle and there is some ambiguity. I can say Beacon Hill is good soap!
There is only one word that best describes three-time Daytime Emmy winner Sarah Brown, and that is “powerhouse”. Since 1996 when soap opera fans first saw her as Carly Corinthos on General Hospital, they knew that this was an actress who took every single moment that was given to her and played it to the hilt with a dramatic intensity seldom seen in the daytime genre, and at such a young age. What followed was a succession of different roles on the network daytime drama landscape: Julia on As the World Turns, a return to GH in a brand new role as the evil Claudia Zacchara, Agnes on The Bold and the Beautiful and Madison on Days of our Lives. In all her roles, Brown always played a woman with a complex past and present with such finesse! Now in 2014, Sarah is starring in her first soap opera web series in Crystal Chappell’s Beacon Hill, which premieres on March 5th!
However, in her new role in Beacon Hill, Sarah plays strong-willed political rising star Katherine Wesley, and for the first time in her career plays opposite another woman, Alicia Minshew’s Sara Preston in a same-sex love story! And, in this very insightful interview with On-Air On-Soaps, Sarah Brown tells us what it was like to experience playing gay for the first time in her career, kissing other women on-screen, the importance to her of taking on an LGBT role, and how she hopes to change some people’s perceptions of same-sex love, and much more!
Sarah also shares her insights on being an actress in the demanding world of daytime soaps, and how working with some dear friends and new friends on Beacon Hill was one of the most exciting and thrilling experience in her professional career. And, when you have behind-the-scenes producers who are also actors like Ricky Paull Goldin, Hillary B. Smith, and Chappell working alongside of the incredible Sarah Brown to make Beacon Hill’s political drama and love story an exciting journey for viewers, it certainly seems to a winning ticket for everyone involved. Here now is our conversation with the phenomenal Ms. Brown!
Let me start by saying it was so interesting chatting with everyone involved with Beacon Hill, because I am here to tell you, you were the person I heard so much about! You have everyone talking about you (laughs) … in a good way!
That is so sweet. I had a fabulous time filming Beacon Hill. When you have a tiny skeleton crew, it’s really about the script, and the characters, and wanting to bring it to the audience that you know will respond to it. It’s a great feeling to be involved in something new that has all those elements to it, because everyone is flying half way across the country and meeting up in strange locations (laughs) to do something of ‘heart’, and that is what was so joyful about it. It was something that everyone cared about in the cast and the crew. So, you have cohesion to a project that might not otherwise have that. You know sometimes a lot of lower budget projects can be a bit of a nightmare, because people aren’t being paid well, and they are cranky. It can be a ‘living in oblivion’ type of an experience. I was so grateful when I got there that everyone on board, which you kind of assume wanted to be there because they love the script and had been in the public eye, and had never done anything like this before. I think for me being out of the soap world, and a lot of us are coming from a soap background and being out of a soundstage, made it really exciting and fun.
So you got this primo leading role as Katherine Wesley in Beacon Hill, and she is a tough political gal, from what I hear!
She is very much daddy’s little boy, and like the son he never had, and she actually does not resent that … they went to ball games together and this was great! (Laughs) Her father is a staunch right wing republican senator. She is from a military and political family, and it’s a Boston family. Scott Bryce (Ex-Craig, ATWT) plays my dad in Beacon Hill. We just had a natural, easy chemistry together, which made everything wonderful. It’s such a different experience from anything I have ever done, being with everyone on set at Beacon Hill, in that it had the smallest budget for a crew, yet there was so much love there, and it was such a supportive environment to work in. We had a lot of people there that were volunteers who are fans of Crystal Chappell’s, or fans of Venice the Series that wanted to be a part of this project. So, we would have this audience participation, and I had never seen this done before on a set. What a great way to save money and excite your fan base all at the same time! It is a great business model. The cast ended up with some great people who were driving us around and talking to us. It was fun.
You had your first girl kiss, or shall I say, kisses during the shooting of Beacon Hill! Did you feel a lot of pressure because of it? I know that kissing both your love interests in the series, Alicia Minshew (Sara) and Rebecca Mozo (Laura), was the first time for you, in that you never have played a lesbian before, or kissed a girl before!
I had two first girl kisses on the same day, within hours of each other! I felt a lot of pressure when Crystal put the script in my lap, and I read it. I told her I wanted to do the role, but I wondered if I could pull it off, because I wanted to do it in such a way that my gay female friends would call me up and say, “Sarah, that’s hot!” I know I saw this controversy on the news recently, where in this film they had two straight actors playing gay, and people online were saying, “Oh, it’s so not realistic. They are not really attracted to each other.” And of course, this is coming out while I am filming Beacon Hill. So, I thought, “No way, I am going to get roasted!” (Laughs)
So, what happened when you finally had to shoot the kissing scenes?
Alicia and I are outside at a restaurant in a flashback. We share a simple kiss as girlfriends, but it was the first time I had ever had a kiss with a woman. Then the second experience was with Rebecca Mozo’s character, on the same day which was so funny, but I can’t remember now which kiss was first, actually. (Laughs) I think in the scene I grabbed her face, the same way you have seen me grab Maurice Benard’s (Sonny, GH) face on General Hospital like a 1000 times. The producers of Beacon Hill loved that! My whole way of going after it as an actor was to put myself in the position of, ‘well first of all, it’s not any different just because it’s a woman, so get that out of your head.’ It’s acting! I remember making out with Brad Maule (Ex-Tony, GH) when I was only 19! So that was also different, too. No matter what project you are in, you just do whatever you have to do in the role, and it’s not necessarily going to be someone you are attracted to, but your job is to make it real. So for me, I thought I could put myself in the position of one of the boys I made out with all the time on GH, and how they kind of manhandled me. And, if I kind of do that little bit, maybe that will get me tuned in to how it might feel, naturally. So once I kind of manhandled Alicia and Rebecca, (laughs) it was a very different side of me, and fun and funny, and there was nothing really weird about it, whatsoever. I was just scared. I thought in terms of Rebecca, ‘I am going to make out with one my best friends. How weird?’ She is truly one of my best friends … ‘awkward’! But we were fine with it. It was only all strange in my imagination before the kisses happened. I wanted it to come off well. I am very competitive with my work. I know that doesn’t sound good, but it’s true. There is that perfectionist in me, where you want to do your best, and you don’t want to come out of the gate representing an entire community of people and have people call you out and say, “That’s false. I didn’t believe you.” I wanted to make my gay friends proud so they will hopefully watch the series, and make the writers proud of me to be able to do this type of role justice.
I have interviewed, over the course of my journalism career, straight men who have played gay roles. Often times, when I ask them about the kissing scenes, or kissing another man for the first time in their lives, they seem to make an off-handed remark, or try to be funny in their response, which makes it feel they are deflecting the question, when they were in actuality very uncomfortable doing it. That is hard to comprehend when their job is being an actor, and inhabiting all types of roles in the human condition.
It’s interesting to me why they would play the role if they can’t find a way to pull it off, and then be proud of what they did, and try to sell it like anything else. I think at the end of the day, if you don’t surrender to it and you have agreed to do it, then it’s harder to talk about to the press in the way that it feels positive, because maybe to the actor it did not feel positive, because they don’t feel they did a good job. But I want to say, (laughs) that I think I gave myself over fully! I watched the promo for Beacon Hill. I went, “OK, how cool!” I want to say this is just love and that is what the story is about, and what drew me to the story as an actor. These are two characters that are gay at a time that gay marriage is legal in like only one state … remember this part of the story takes place six years ago. It takes place before the majority of the battle had been taken on in the gay marriage fight. The story takes place at that point in this very uproarious time in politics for gay rights. It’s important. I was driven to do this project for the challenge and the affirmation of people who trust my work that this is something I believe in … so I truly hope they are supportive. I like to be part of things that are new, off the cuff, and different. Crystal seems to be at the forefront of that, as far as making Internet content with soap stars for soap fans. She is really leading the charge, and also doing a lot of work for gay rights, and bringing gay characters to the front of the web series soap genre.
Jessica, one of the writers and producers of Beacon Hill, said she decided to make the leading female roles in the series a reporter and a political senator, because she wanted to show that there are very successful lesbian women who fall in love, which mirrored her real life story.
Yes. In Beacon Hill these are intelligent women, who are very well dressed and made up! (Laughs). They are not on the fringes of society, which I loved about this.
How was working with Alicia Minshew (Sara)?
It was amazing. She is like one of the sweetest people I ever met. When I got to the set and finally met her, I just wanted to intuitively protect her and make sure she was comfortable. She felt like a little sister, or a friend I might walk in front of at a party. I sometimes feel very protective of my girlfriends, and so she felt like one those girlfriends that I would want to protect, whereas I have some girlfriends who are very protective of me. I think that ultimately helped us on the shoot. It helped in the dynamics. I felt so comfortable with Alicia and so not threatened, and there was no bitchiness. And let’s be honest … girl’s can be bitchy! (Laughs) I applaud Alicia. She did a great job with the dialog and the sex scenes. I think Crystal smartly knew that we would click, and did a good job at casting these roles. I also worked with director Albert Alaar before. Certainly, he was there during my Claudia Zacchara days on GH, and he was also a director to me when I was on Days of our Lives. I trust him. I understand the way he worked. I think ultimately Alicia was a great choice. I hear the producers and the writers were very happy the way the casting of Beacon Hill worked out.
Why are you always able to tap into playing such strong women? Where does that come from?
I am a strong woman, and so it kind of resonates out when I take on a role. I think there is a little bit of “The Terminator” inside of me, definitely (Laughs). Life was not a cake walk for me. When I became an actor, it really transformed my life and all of those past experiences. I had that which formed me into a very strong person that people responded to on General Hospital. Early in my life I had to be strong. I was raised that way. My dad is like Clint Eastwood, in having no fear. I was raised with a tremendous amount of boys. Let’s be honest, I come from a half black multi-racial family, and on the African-American side of my family, they are very tall and very strong. There is a lot of military influence, and teachers and very educated people on that side of my family too. I also come from a family of very proud and strong women, and I think it’s hard to hide that. I never get cast as the ‘girl next door type’! When I go in for these guest star roles on primetime for ‘girl next door’, they just don’t buy it, because I think the strong part of me is just in my DNA, and it kind of has defined me. I usually know what I want, and I will fight for it.
What can you tell me about Katherine’s political background, and how it’s intertwined with her love story with Sara?
She is in Beacon Hill, and she is representing that district as a junior senator, whereas her father is an actual senator for the state. So you have the different levels in government where you are in the senate, but you are not a senator at that point. This is a character who is a free spirit who falls in love with this young female reporter. And this woman has this grandfather (played by Ron Raines) who I think is the democratic senator for Massachusetts. So we fall in love, and her grandfather comes to me knowing that my father is a politician and asks me if I would like to join his campaign. Now because he is a democrat, I never considered getting into politics the way my family has, because my family are republicans and that goes against all of Katherine’s views. So now the grandfather comes to me and says, if we wins, he wants me to run for his old seat in the senate. Katherine joins the campaign knowing if he gets elected senator of the state, he wants her to take over his seat.
Does Katherine play dirty politics?
She doesn’t play dirty politics, but I don’t know if there are any clean politics. That is what makes it a soap, because it’s based in politics, and not because the actors have all been on soaps before, and not because of the romance. In the same way that House of Cards is a soap opera … Beacon Hill is a soap opera. We definitely get into that! There are mustache twirlers, and a lot of deals being made behind people’s backs from their own members of their party or staff. Katherine is morally sound, which is why they want her for the seat, and also because her family name is very recognizable.
Rebecca Mozo plays Laura, and she is the current girlfriend of Katherine’s. What is their relationship …”friends with benefits”?
Season one we are lovers, but it’s not a super commitment. But towards the end of the season, you see that my character is developing more of a soft spot for this friend that she is feeling might be more romantic than she is letting on … and maybe she wants more from her. The show gets very complicated. (Laughs)
Did you have the opportunity to get to work with John-Paul Lavoisier (Eric) at all on the set of Beacon Hill?
I never did get to work with John-Paul, but he did loan me his underwear so I could do a scene and not have my butt in front of the camera! (Laughs) It was that kind of a shoot where you realized … maybe I needed to bring men’s underwear! We were so busy shooting on a tight schedule that on one day I forgot to bring anything to wear anything under my nightgown. I knew I had to do these love scenes where my butt would be up in the air. So JP took off his pants and loaned me his boxers, which I still have here in my house! (Laughs)
So many of your soap fans are looking forward to seeing you again on Beacon Hill. They have missed seeing you everyday on their television screens!
I hope Beacon Hill is something that people will follow me in, even though it’s so different than the romance they have seen me play on General Hospital or on any other daytime soaps I have done. And, if you respond to my work in that genre, I am hoping you will come with me and open your mind a little bit, and come on the journey with me as well. The challenge is people usually want to watch a romance you can get wrapped- up in, because they can identify with it. So when you are doing a lesbian love story, it will be very interesting to see how many of my so-called ‘die-hard’ fans will watch it, when they can’t relate to the subject matter, or get lost in the fantasy, because they want to be you. Maybe they don’t see themselves with a woman, or falling in love with a woman, so they can’t. So through my daytime roles, many want to be you. They can fall away from their own life for a little bit, or their husband who yells at them, or treats them a certain way. I think in the soaps, the women in the audience may think, “I can identify with you Sarah in the way that your work is, and the way that you approach your roles, and I want to be in your character’s shoes. Look at these handsome men you are frolicking around with, and all these fun stories.” I hope they can make the transition with us in Beacon Hill with the politics, the quirkiness of it, the relationships in it, and seeing the actors that they love, and then this same-sex romance in it will not be a barrier.
It seems that seeing two women together in love story is more acceptable to mainstream audiences than seeing two men together in a fictionalized series. How would you feel if you saw your favorite actor, who is supposed to be a sex symbol that makes female hearts go a-flutter, playing a gay role?
I will tell you this; if it’s my favorite hunky male action star and he is in a series where his character is a gay man, I am still interested in watching that. As a viewer and as a fan, if it’s my favorite actor … then I am going to want to watch them do what they do.
What do you hope is the takeaway for soap fans who have loved you and Alicia from your daytime roles, but may be resistant at first at seeing the two of you play same-sex lovers?
Our hope is that we can take a catholic, Middle America, country music loving part of the audience who love us from our other daytime soap roles, and say to them and those that might not be as open-minded, “I know you love watching us on these network shows. Here we are doing something a little bit different. We would love for you to tune-in and see how you feel, and if you can identify what the character’s journeys are, if not for their sexual identify, then maybe that is not as important to you as the storytelling. This show is so tremendously written, which is why I agreed to it in the first place.
Do you miss the grind at all of doing a daytime drama series, when you had done it for so many years?
Being on a soap is a monster that you may be doing for years at a time, where you are learning 30-40 pages of dialog a day. You are constantly creating something different on the fly, and something new and interacting with other actors and creators all the time. That is something I have been used to most all of my life. It’s really hard to adjust to not being on that type of schedule. You are growing as an artist every day on a soap. You are making mistakes and correcting them. So, for me to go months at a time without a project would crush me creatively, except I do a lot of other things. I am writing a script, I edit and I direct, and I work with music videos. I am trying to broaden my horizons as a creator. I am not having as many opportunities as I had when I was younger, or working as often. It’s been shocking, but I have been a full-time mom to my 15 and half year old daughter, and so that is my commitment when I am not working.
I hear Rebecca Mozo (Laura) was a huge fan of yours from your work on General Hospital, and that was originally how you met. Fill me in!
Yes! We had met through Tom Pelphrey (Ex-Jonathan, GL and Mick, ATWT) who I met when I was on As the World Turns. Tom knew Rebecca from college at Rutgers. He brought Rebecca over to my house one year that I had a big Emmy party, and Tom had won an Emmy that year, and so we threw this big party. He brought a dozen of his friends from Jersey, and Rebecca was one of them and she geeked out on me! It was so funny and so endearing, and we have been such good friends ever since then. When I got the script for Beacon Hill from Crystal, she said, “Now, who would you see as the other person who you might like to work with?” My initial response was Ashley Jones (Bridget) who I love and had worked with at The Bold and the Beautiful. Ashley had something else she was working on and could not make the commitment to do Beacon Hill at that time. So as I worked through the script, I mentioned Rebecca Mozo to Crystal, who in fact was doing four other projects this year playing a lesbian. For Rebecca, this was the ‘Year of the Lesbian’ (Laughs.) So they set up cameras here in my house and read Rebecca. They loved her and cast her in the role of Katherine’s lover, which in season two is going to be an even more integral role. It’s been fun to have her be part of this process.
Ricky Paull Goldin is one of the producers and cast members of Beacon Hill, which is another very exciting talent attached to this project! What are your thoughts on RPG?
I love Ricky Paull! When they brought All My Children out here, he was trying to get me a role on there to play opposite him! We have been conspiring to work together for a very long time, and again he is someone that I trust. Hearing Crystal Chappell and Ricky Paull were attached to Beacon Hill, of course made me feel so excited to be a part of this, too.
Finally, how do you see working on daytime vs. your experience working on Beacon Hill?
I have nothing bad to say about daytime. I loved being a part of it, but the one thing about daytime is the repetition. Every day you are saying things you said the day before, because they need to fill five hour long episodes per week. You are doing a lot of exposition and recreating the day or week before events. You literally spend hours memorizing what you are already said a different way from yesterday, and that can be very frustrating. However, it needs to happen to keep that machine going, whereas in a project like Beacon Hill, the episodes are short, you are cutting to the chase, you are working on a location with people that love acting, and are not there for the money. That was really different, and super exciting, and so much fun. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
February 7, 2014 - michaelfairmansoaps.com
Political Scandal Set To Rock BEACON HILL! Watch The Latest Promo!
The premiere of Beacon Hill is just a few weeks away, so circle your calendars for March 5th! That is when this political thriller with scheming, backstabbing, and romance is set to thrill viewers featuring one of the greatest all-soap-star casts ever assembled!
This week the series released a brand new promo featuring never seen before clips teasing the story that is at the epicenter of Beacon Hill … politics and dysfunctional family dynamics. Of course as has been previously reported, the series is also a love story between Alicia Minshew as Sara and Sarah Brown as Katherine!
In this new teaser, check out cast members: Ricky Paull Goldin, John-Paul Lavoisier, Scott Bryce, Ron Raines, Alicia Minshew, Jessica Morris, Sarah Brown and Crystal Chappell for hints into what will be revealed during the 13 episode first season!
Now after the jump, check out the promo where Crystal Chappell’s Claire is all about an envelope with some damning information that she insists to the man she gives it to, “It’s all there. You’ll be discreet.” To which the man says, ”Discreet’ … is my middle name.” Then, let us know if you are intrigued by Beacon Hill?
by Jared Kaplan
We’re just under 30 days away from the debut of new web series “Beacon Hill” and yesterday Open Book Productions/Bella Productions released a new trailer to get the anticipation rising. It turns out not everything is what it seems in Massachusetts politics!
In the new trailer, we get a closer look at Alicia Minshew’s (ex-Kendall, “All My Children”) reporter character Sara Preston. She’s returned home to Boston after her Senator grandfather has a stroke that paralyzes half of his body. But is Sara there to visit her ailing grandfather or has she been sent there to report on her family? We also catch a glimpse of Sara’s mother Claire, played by Crystal Chappell (ex-Carly, “Days of Our Lives.”) What’s in the envelope? And why the need to be discreet about it?
These questions and more will be answered when “Beacon Hill” debuts Wednesday, March 5. The series will be made available on www.beaconhilltheseries.com, with all 12 episodes of the first season available for $9.99.
January 30, 2014 - michaelfairmansoaps.com
The John-Paul Lavoisier Interview – Beacon Hill (excerpt)
It’s been awhile since soap fans have seen John-Paul Lavoisier! The former One Life to Live favorite where he played Rex Balsom, is now co-starring in the political soap opera Beacon Hill, which will have its online debut on March 5th. In it JP plays Eric Preston, the son of Crystal Chappell’s Claire Preston, and brother to Alicia Minshew’s Sara Preston, and who’s Grandfather Senator Preston is played by Ron Raines! How’s that for a family tree for starters? Beacon Hill also reunites John-Paul with his One Life to Live sister Melissa Archer, and former on-screen love interest Jessica Morris!
As for John-Paul’s personal story, it was no secret that he, as well as many others in the cast, were devastated at the cancellation of One Life to Live by ABC. Once the series was canned, he and then girlfriend Farah Fath (Ex-Gigi) moved out to Los Angeles, where JP began to pursue other acting career opportunities. But many have asked: what happened to his relationship with Farah? According to John-Paul, when he came out to Los Angles he had a hard time dealing with the change from the east coast. He admits he was in a dark place, and he says that Farah could not deal with it. Apparently he relates, she had a five month limit on how much she could take a depressed JP, and left him in June of 2012. Since that time John-Paul has been single.
There had been other rumors circulating as well for over a year concerning JP. One of which was that the popular actor was next in line to take over the role of Dillon Quartermaine on General Hospital, and another being about why he chose not to become part of Prospect Park’s online version of One Life to Live. Well, in this candid interview with On-Air On-Soaps, John-Paul fills us in on if the rumors were true, and if anything would have brought him back to One Life to Live for a reprise of his beloved role as “Sexy Rexy”! Plus, we learn what the heck is, “The Full Dolores” that he and best friend and former OLTL cast mate, Tuc Watkins (David) have cooked up!
One thing is for certain, John-Paul holds a very special place in the hearts of One Life to Live fans for all-time. And with that, he hopes to make new memories with his upcoming role in Crystal Chappell and company’s, Beacon Hill. Here now, the one and only JP!
So many soap fans have missed seeing you every day! How did you become involved in Beacon Hill? What made you decide to be part of this project, since this is your first soap role since One Life to Live?
It fell into my lap. I randomly got an email from Hillary B. Smith saying, “I have this project I am working on with Crystal Chappell, and there is a part for you that you would be perfect for. And can I email you the script and the material? We would love to have you.” So, she emailed me the script and I thought, “Well, I can do this. I want to work with you, and I miss you.” So, it was a chance to work and to see Hillary again and to fly back east. I had never met Crystal before, so it was a chance to meet her for the first time. I knew Ricky Paull Goldin was involved, and I love Ricky. He is one of the easiest guys to talk to, and one of the funniest guys to talk to. Then, when I found out I was going to play Alicia Minshew’s brother, I was very excited. I grew up watching All My Children, and I have grown up knowing Alicia’s work forever. I was sort of a fan, and I would see her at soap events. It was a chance to reconnect and sort of get to know her better, as well. I am glad I did Beacon Hill. It felt so good to be in cold weather in Massachusetts bundled up, and I just felt at home, because I also was with Melissa Archer. Even though I never worked with Alicia and Crystal, it was kind of like Abbott and Costello not working together for 20 years, and then someone calling them up and saying, “Hey, can you do this part?” It was kind of like us all falling back into the old routine. We knew we could trust each other. We knew it was going to be fun, and we had the same sort of work ethic. We all came from the same place, sort of. I knew it was going to be fun, and we were going to get it done without problems. Everyone was so professional. It was neat to see Hillary in producer mode, because I am used to seeing Hillary in “Hillary mode” mostly (Laughs). Your producer Hillary! You have your headset on and you are watching the monitor. So there was that element that was new.
Did being a part of Beacon Hill, make you miss OLTL?
Oh, c’mon. (Sighs) I would sign a 30 year contract to be on One Life to Live if it was in front of me, right now. It’s a no brainer. I miss everything about it. Everything! I never had any complaints that whole time when I was on ABC. I hope Beacon Hill continues, because it brought me back. It’s sort of like we all have come together to do the same magic trick. We know the gimmicks. We all have this well-oiled machine. We know how to hit our marks.
When I interviewed Crystal Chappell (Claire Preston) about what she thought of you, she says what I have always said about you, that you are so interesting to watch and you never know what is going to happen. I have often said that you have your own unique, very non-soap acting style, the way you delivered your material as Rex on OLTL. So, I totally get what she is saying.
I had one scene with her, and she is really fun. Her character is not of sound mind when my character has this interaction with her. We had this close moment; she affected me. I was happy and excited that Hillary threw me this bone, but when I found out I was playing Crystal’s son, I thought, “I don’t think she is old enough to do this! I hope that it’s believable and they buy I am her son, because I would sleep with her!” (Laughs) Crystal is very good at turning on and off … I am the actress now … I am the hang out co-worker … and I am also the producer and boss … and I have to give people orders and tell them what to do, and flip that switch, just as Hillary was.
So what is the deal with the Eric Preston character you play in Beacon Hill?
I have not read anything for season two, but in the first season he is basically playing this runner, wet nurse, for his grandfather. He wants to keep the family working, and he only wants what’s best for the family. He is probably the future heir to the family, and right now he is just the “yes” man to the grandfather. You see him getting him tea, or answering the door, or carrying people’s luggage. He is sort if like the family slave, and the caregiver right now. He is making sure the dust is off the counter. I heard that he has his own plans for taking over certain things, but that is not happening yet.
So, you therefore share scenes with the amazing Ron Raines (Senator Preston)?
Everything you see Eric doing is for Ron Raines’ character. You sadly never see him with Ron Raines! We are never face to face. Although I am face to face with his lover, my old sister on OLTL, Melissa Archer, which was neat.
I was thinking Eric and Evelyn (Melissa Archer) would end up having a fling!
We have been told that since they are closer in age, and this being a soap, that there is a sexual spark that they have to deal with soon.
So is Eric Preston a good guy?
In the first season, I played him as a good guy. I wasn’t playing that he had nefarious activities. I was basically being truthful and honest with everything I did, except I know there was a moment where I have this moment with Crystal. I was beat down from her, and when my grandfather yells something from the bedroom. I give a look like, “Not again.” I think Eric was tired of all this crap, and that he is running all the time, but he just sucks it up and does it, because he thinks, “I am family, and family comes first. And being the political figures that they are, I have to keep everyone’s face pretty for the world.” I am excited to see how much more of the brother and sister relationship they build between Sara and Eric. I feel a cool bond with Alicia. I hope that I can pull though as an actor, if they do push and something evolves between Evelyn and Eric, because it’s incredibly weird. I have known Melissa Archer for 12 years. I see her almost every day. We hang out in L.A. all the time, and she is like my sister. And the thing with me is, the less I know about you sometimes, the better I can act with you, depending on our character. With Bob Woods (Bo) on OLTL, it was easy to work with him. He was kind of like my dad. With Erika Slezak (Viki), I respected her, so it was easy to respect Viki on the show. With Melissa it was easy. She was like my sister, and she played my sister on the show. But if all of sudden we are bedfellows, this will definitely be the biggest challenge of my acting career; playing that I want to sleep with Melissa Archer. I love Melissa, she is very sexy, but she is John-Paul’s sister. (Laughs)
In closing, with all you went through personally and professionally, is acting still your passion? Because you are one of the most naturally gifted young actors I have seen. Los Angeles can be tough and unforgiving, when there are so many talented people vying for roles on shows, and more often than not, its about that lucky break.
I will say working on the soap was a huge blessing, and one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. I was thinking about this a couple of months ago. Everybody in my life that is important, I have met all of them because of ABC and One Life to Live. Everyone I know is an extension of someone I met at ABC or One Life to Live. I know so many people through Tuc. The Fumeros I see all the time. I have reconnected with John Brotherton, and I see Billy Warlock and Julie Pinson all the time. Plus, I got to act and do this character, and I had a great Manhattan life because of it. I will say on the record, it was a huge curse working on One Life and on a soap. I am having a difficult time doing non-soap work at a non-soap speed. Everything else is slower. I am in play rehearsal right now, and as happy as I am being in the play, the rehearsals are so slow, and it just is, what it is. With primetime stuff, there is more money involved, so it allows you to have more time. But with soaps, time is money. We had to do 250 shows a year. So this is the way, I put it: “Going from soaps to anything else, is like a NASCAR driver having to drive a city bus.” That’s the best way I can put it. Beacon Hill was pretty close, because we did anywhere between 1 to 3 takes per scene, but again the process was still slower. Beacon Hill is really the perfect balance between film and soap. They want the film quality, but they did take a lot of time for set-ups, and it was very professional. But when it came time to do the acting, we can get in one take, because we can. Now we go into soap mode, because we are soap actors. We are going to save you time and money now, so you can take that time and put it towards the production, or setting up for the next shot. I still will never understand why a large percentage of this business looks down on soaps, when in fact it should be the opposite.
by Liz Fisher
Beacon Hill will be bringing political intrigue laced with romance, family and relationship drama, and a cast filled with soap opera all-stars to our screens starting this March.
New web series Beacon Hill will premiere March 5, 2014. The show is set in the dramatic world of politics, but relationships, both romantic and familial, will create plenty of conflict as well.
The show focuses on two former lovers: Sara Preston, played by Alicia Minshew (ex-Kendall Hart, All My Children; Tainted Dreams), and Katherine Wesley played by Sarah Brown (ex-Claudia Zacchara, ex-Carly Jacks, General Hospital; ex-Agnes Jones, The Bold and the Beautiful; ex-Madison James, Days of our Lives, ex-Julia Larrabee, As the World Turns). The pair reconnect after six years apart and struggle with lingering feelings for one another, political turmoil, family intrusions, and press interference.
Beacon Hill is a collaboration between Emmy Award-winning actress Crystal Chappell of Open Books Productions, which produced Venice and The Grove, and Linda and Jessica Hill of Bella Books and Bella Productions
"As book publishers, what interests us the most is the story. We have tremendous respect for great storytelling, character development and building richly layered narratives. That's what we've tried to do with Beacon Hill," said Linda and Jessica Hill.
The show will run on a subscription model. A price has not yet been announced. The creators hope this first season will establish the show and attract sponsorship going forward. "We're in this for the long haul and want to continue to produce Beacon Hill and other quality shows," they stated.
In addition to Minshew and Brown, the cast includes: Crystal Chappell, Melissa Archer (ex-Natalie Buchanan, One Life to Live), Scott Bryce (ex-Craig Montgomery, ATWT), Ricky Paull Goldin (ex-Jake Martin, AMC; ex-Gus Aituro, GL; Another World, AMC, GL, The Young and the Restless), John-Paul Lavoisier (ex-Rex Balsom, OLTL), Jessica Morris (ex-Jennifer Rappaport, OLTL), Rebecca Mozo, Ron Raines (ex-Alan Spaulding; OLTL), Tina Sloan (GL, AW), and Louise Sorel (ex-Vivian Alamain, DAYS).
On the latest episode of WE LOVE SOAPS TV (5.12), Roger Newcomb traveled to the set of an east cost photo shoot for upcoming web series BEACON HILL, a Open Book Productions and Bella Books political drama premiering on March 5.
Watch our new episode below as we speak with two-time Emmy-nominated actor/director/producer Scott Bryce about his role as "Senator Tom Wesley" on BEACON HILL. Bryce talks about the advantages of doing a web series versus network TV or film, what it's like working for executive producer Crystal Chappell, and how much he loves working with the actresses that played his AS THE WORLD TURNS sister, including BEACON HILL supervising producer Hillary Bailey Smith.
A slew of familiar faces are starring in the new Web series BEACON HILL, including Sarah Brown (ex-Claudia, GENERAL HOSPITAL; ex-Agnes, THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL) Alicia Minshew (Kendall, ALL MY CHILDREN), and Crystal Chappell (Dani, B&B; Olivia, GUIDING LIGHT) The serial, filmed on location in Boston, was co-created by Jessica Hill and her wife Linda, who is the chief executive officer of Bella Books, a publisher of lesbian fiction.
"BEACON HILL is a political drama set in Boston," Jessica tells Soaps In Depth. "Alicia and Sarah are our two leads, and they play the daughters of two political families in Boston. One's Republican and the other is Democrat. Alicia's character, Sara, and Sarah's character, Katherine, were together [romantically] and they broke up. Our story starts six years later when Sara's grandfather, played by Ron Raines [Carl, OLTL; Alan, GL], has a stroke. Sara, who's living in New York, comes back to Boston and you see dynamics between her family and Katherine start to develop."
The rest of the cast — which reads like a Who's Who of daytime — includes Scott Bryce (Craig, ATWT), Ricky Paull Goldin (Jesse, B&B; Gus, GL), Louise Sorel (ex-Vivian, DAYS), Tina Sloan (Lillian, GL), John-Paul Lavoisier (Rex, OLTL), Jessica Morris (Jen, OLTL), and Melissa Archer (Natalie, OLTL). Also in the cast is newcomer Rebecca Mozo.
BEACON HILL is produced by Bella Productions, the sister company of Bella Books, in association with Chappell's production company, Open Book Productions. Goldin and Emmy-winning actress Hillary B. Smith (Nora, OLTL; Margo, ATWT) serve as producers on the show.
Chappell, who has helmed Web series VENICE and THE GROVE, plays Claire, Sara's mother. How did that work, since there's less than a decade between the two actresses? "I age myself," Chappell confides. "I went without makeup and I wear my hair severely — it's in a twist and high up on top. It's a fun character to play. Claire's husband is gone. My feeling is he couldn't tolerate her family.
"BEACON HILL is a very different show," Chappell adds. "It's a political drama with intrigue and romance revolving around two political families. Jessica and Linda are terrific people and writers. I love working with them!"
BEACON HILL begins streaming on Wednesday, March 5. For more info, check out www.beaconhilltheseries.com
On the latest episode of WE LOVE SOAPS TV (5.10), Roger Newcomb traveled to the set of an east cost photo shoot for upcoming web series BEACON HILL, a Open Book Productions and Bella Books political drama premiering on March 5.
Watch our new episode below as we speak with actress Alicia Minshew about her role as "Sara Preston" on BEACON HILL. Minshew talks about starring opposite Sarah Brown on the show, shooting on location, and the advantages of working with producers like Crystal Chappell and Hillary B. Smith, who have played the same types of scenes as actresses.
January 8, 2014 - We Love Soaps
Crystal Chappell and Tina Sloan Preview BEACON HILL on WE LOVE SOAPS TV
On the latest episode of WE LOVE SOAPS TV (5.10), Roger Newcomb traveled to the set of an east cost photo shoot for upcoming web series BEACON HILL, a Open Book Productions and Bella Books political drama premiering on March 5.
Watch our new episode below featuring interviews with executive producer Crystal Chappell (who also plays Claire Preston in in the series), and Tina Sloan, whose Louise Casell character runs the local coffeehouse. Chappell calls BEACON HILL a cross between DALLAS and THE WEST WING, and gives us a behind the scenes look at the show. Sloan shares her excitement about taking on another interesting character for the web, as well as the recent news she is going to be a first time grandmother.
by Michael Logan
She scored outrageous success with her landmark internet series Venice, now Emmy-winning actress-producer Crystal Chappell (Guiding Light, The Bold and the Beautiful) is about to bring us another web potboiler, Beacon Hill. The series, which begins streaming March 5, is set against the cutthroat world of Massachusetts politics and features lots of lesbian steam and a cast of daytime greats, including Sarah Brown (General Hospital), Alicia Minshew and Ricky Paull Goldin (All My Children), Tina Sloan and Ron Raines (Guiding Light), Melissa Archer, Jessica Morris and John-Paul Lavoisier (One Life to Live), Scott Bryce (As the World Turns) and Louise Sorel (Days of Our Lives). TV Guide Magazine caught up with the über-busy Chappell to get an exclusive preview.
TV Guide Magazine: You are freakily productive. Fess up, do you have one of those Reva Shayne-type Dolly clones at home?
Chappell: [Laughs] No, just me — but I couldn't do this stuff without a fantastic team. There is nothing easy about producing and budgeting and dealing with travel and finding locations, so doing this does take a little bit of insanity. Or a lot of insanity. But this s--t's fun! I'm having the most wonderful time hanging with Sarah Brown and Alicia Minshew, women from daytime I've always admired but somehow never got to know. It's magical! I sit in front of the monitors on the set and ooh and aah at them. I'm a big, nutty soap fan.
TV Guide Magazine: So hit us with some scoop. What's this series about?
Chappell: It's a story centering around two families — one of them is right wing, headed by Senator Tom Wesley [Scott Bryce], who has big presidential aspirations, and the other is left wing, headed by Senator William Preston [Ron Raines], who is a really nasty predator. The two lead characters, Sara [Minshew] and Katherine [Brown], are ex-lovers who fall back into each other's orbit after several years apart. Katherine, who is in line for a Senate seat, is currently in a bed-buddy relationship with her friend Laura [Rebecca Mozo], and Sara is in a fairly new relationship with Diane [Jessica Morris]. [Laughs] And it all just explodes from there!
TV Guide Magazine: And you play?
Chappell: Senator Preston's eldest daughter, Claire, who likes her booze and has a ton of hot secrets.
TV Guide Magazine: Juicy! You've also got that great star of stars Hillary B. Smith (One Life to Live) working on Beacon Hill — but behind the scenes! What's up with that?
Chappell: Hillary is my supervising producer and has done a phenomenal job. She was willing to step into an acting role if we needed her but, like the rest of us, she's looking to expand her experience. [Laughs] And she so bailed my ass out! My character is one of those women who is always dressed appropriately with the perfect accessories and the hair done exactly right. Soooo not me! I have nothing like that in my closet but Hillary had it all. She grew up in and around Boston and knows that scene, so she brought me the dresses, the scarves, the circle pin, everything. She really put me together.
TV Guide Magazine: The actresses you've cast — from Venice to your web pilot The Grove — always seem so comfortable, even thrilled, to do the girl-on-girl action. Talk about that.
Chappell: Oh, you'd be surprised who isn't into this sort of thing. It's not the right project for some people but mostly I've been very lucky. You don't want anyone who's going to be uptight. We had a very laid-back set filled with people who really appreciated the creative freedom.
TV Guide Magazine: They kept your lesbian love story on GL notoriously chaste, to the point where you and Jessica Leccia weren't allowed to kiss. How's it feel to go on the web and let it all hang out?
Chappell: [Laughs] Literally! You know what? It feels perfectly natural. What was unnatural is what we went through at GL. It felt like such a lie for Olivia and Natalia not to be able to express their love for each other. To try to tell that story without being able to touch or kiss was crazy. So this is just great! When it comes to LGBTQ issues, things are changing, moving forward, but we still have quite a ways to go. I really believe that projects like Venice and Beacon Hill help make a difference. And I love that we don't have to deal with any censors, no suits in a tower saying that two women can only kiss on the cheek, or that they can't look at each other for too long because America can't handle it. And that freedom makes the work much more authentic. This was Sarah Brown's first girl kiss, which was very exciting for all of us! After we filmed her first kissing scene, we were all going, "Yaaaaay!" And Sarah is an actress who has no fear. She was all about getting that first kiss out of the way, and then there was no stopping her! And Alicia was perfectly, completely comfortable, so it was all very funny and fun.
TV Guide Magazine: You've developed a massive lesbian following as a result of playing gay on GL, Venice, The Grove and, most recently, B&B. Has that portion of your audience come to expect it from you? Would you disappoint them if you delivered a series that didn't have lesbian content? Or will they follow you anywhere now?
Chappell: God, I don't know! Maybe they would be disappointed but I'd like to think not. Beyond being gay women, they're also soap fans, and I don't know who doesn't enjoy a good story! That's ultimately what it comes down to. You know, it suddenly hit me one day that I was playing a straight character on Beacon Hill, which I haven't done in a while. [Laughs] A long while! I was, like, God, do I even remember how? But the work we're putting out isn't solely about representing the gay community. This is a show that is primarily about politics and relationships, some of them quite twisted and dysfunctional.
TV Guide Magazine: And it's so damn ambitious! Most web series are too low-budget to take an entire cast and crew on location to Massachusetts.
Chappell: You'd be surprised what miracles you can make happen with a little luck and good will. People really want to help you out. We shot a lot of the series in Lincoln and Grafton, Mass., plus a day in the actual Beacon Hill area of Boston. Everywhere we went, people were amazing! You find, say, a general store you want to use as a location and offer the owners a couple of hundred bucks and they say yes! It's what we had to do in Peapack, N.J., when we moved there to shoot GL.
TV Guide Magazine: So finally there's payoff for all that hell Ellen Wheeler put you peeps through?
Chappell: [Laughs] Seriously! I learned a lot from working that way. Beacon Hill is definitely the most ambitious project yet for me, and a lot of that comes from the writers, Jessica and Linda Hill of Bella Books, who wanted to tell their story. They got married last August after being together forever. They are really bright, really talented women who wrote a terrific drama in order to express their feelings — something I just couldn't resist. I am really honored to help get this out in the world. In addition to being a subscription series on the web, we want to keep shopping this project around because it has great bones, great structure.
TV Guide Magazine: So what's next, producer lady?
Chappell: I have a feature film on the docket for 2014 with a half-million dollar budget, so that's going to be a huge step for me. And there's a great sitcom, Welcome, Matt, written by Lindsay Harrison [The Young and the Restless, Tainted Dreams], that I'd love to produce. We recently did a reading of it with a great bunch of actors, including Michael Knight [All My Children]. Plus, we're preparing six episodes of The Grove, which we'll probably shoot in the spring, also as a subscription series. [Laughs] So it's all good! People aren't going to bring me onto a network series or a studio film as a producer! Are you kidding? But here, on the web, we can create our own projects and build our own futures. It's exhausting, I won't lie, but absolutely thrilling!
AE: Lastly, I want to talk to you about your new and very exciting project, Beacon Hill. Your production company Open Book, is collaborating with Bella Books to bring us a brand new, lesbian geared webseries. Tell me what you can about it.
CC: It's a political drama. It's about two political families in the Beacon Hill area. Kate and Sara were ex partners, ex lovers, and have gone their separate ways for a while and gotten on with their lives. Circumstances throw them back into each other's world. It's a lot of push-pull, and politics obviously. Ambition, greed, sex.
AE: All of our favorite things!
CC: (laughs) Revenge. It's a good, soapy thing and it's fun, it's really fun. I'm very excited about it. The ladies at Bella Books are just fantastic to work with.
AE: Obviously you are going to be involved behind the scenes, but is there a chance you will be involved in front as well?
CC: There is a chance.*
*It's since been announced that Crystal will be playing the character of Claire Preston on Beacon Hill.
AE: Uh! There's a chance. (laughs)
CC: (laughs) There's a chance. I'm really excited about it. I have such respect for Jessica and Linda (of Bella Books) that it's going to be fun. My head is swimming because I'm actually in the process of casting it. We have some wonderful soap names- daytime actresses that are interested- so I'm excited to make that announcement when it's time.
AE: Timeline wise, when can viewers expect to see it?
CC: I'm guessing, first thing 2014.
AE: Something soapy and wonderful to look forward to in the new year.
August 2, 2013 -
Melissa Archer Joins The Cast Of Crystal Chappell's Beacon Hill!
More big name soap star casting news to report this afternoon! One Life to Live's Melissa Archer (Natalie Buchanan) has signed on to Crystal Chappell's upcoming new web series, Beacon Hill!
Melissa will play the role of Evelyn Preston in this soap opera set against a political backdrop. A bit about Archer's new character: Evelyn want to always be sure she is well taken care of – and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She is also the much younger wife of Senator Preston!
The One Life to Live favorite joins Ricky Paull Goldin, Sarah Brown, Louise Sorel and Chappell in the stellar cast with more names to be added in the all-star line-up soon! For more on the web series, check out the Beacon Hill Series Facebook page and their website!
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Tenley Woodman - Inside Track
Boston-born actress Hillary B. Smith has played a nurse ("The Doctors") and a detective ("As the World Turns"), but it's her role as lawyer Nora Buchanan on "One Life to Live" that stuck. The one-time ABC daytime staple celebrates its 45th anniversary Monday, with episodes airing on Oprah Winfrey's network OWN.
"I joined the show 20, 21 years ago. We were having a big 25th anniversary party," Smith told the Track. "It's so interesting. Here we are celebrating the 45th. We have grown and matured, and gotten hip all at the same time," she said.
After being canceled by ABC in 2011, the fictional Llanview, Pa.-set characters found a home online with Prospect Park. The new platform debuted this spring, and OWN has committed to airing episodes of the Stamford, Conn.-filmed show as well as "All My Children" for 10 weeks.
The Dana Hall School and Pine Manor-educated actress plans to return to her roots this fall. The 56-year-old mother of two returns to the Hub as a producer on "Beacon Hill," a new online soap set in the shadow of the State House.
"Boston is very near and dear to my heart," said the one-time Beacon Street resident. "'Beacon Hill' is about political intrigue and relation- ships. Most people don't under-stand the dichotomy of Boston. It will be interesting."
"Beacon Hill" will stream on its own website, beaconhill theseries.com, and stars a who's who of soap opera favorites — Ricky Paull Goldin ("All My Children"), Sarah Brown ("General Hospital"), Louise Sorel ("Days of Our Lives") and Crystal Chappell ("Days of Our Lives").
Goldin also is producer.
File under: As the Brahmin Turns.
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July 5, 2013 - michaelfairmansoaps.com
Ricky Paull Goldin Joins The Cast & Producing Team of 'BEACON HILL'
The casting of Crystal Chappell’s new web series Beacon Hill just keeps getting more intriguing and more intriguing! This afternoon, Chappell announced that daytime favorite, Ricky Paull Goldin (Jesse, B&B, Ex-Jake, AMC, EX-Gus, GL) has been added to the cast in the role of Andrew Miller … and that’s not all! Ricky is also coming on board as one of the producers of the new web series!
So here is the lowdown on Ricky’s new role of Andrew Miller, according to the Beacon Hill website, “Katherine’s chief of staff is addicted to power. His ambition and underhanded actions may harm Katherine’s upcoming campaign and ruin any chance she may have to reconnect with Sara.” And as previously reported, Katherine will be played by the one and only Sarah Brown!
Ricky received an onslaught of well-wishes from fans, followers, new and old castmates on Twitter when the news was released of his addition to Beacon Hill. Goldin tweeted after the fervor, “Thanx 4 all the kind tweets. Made my day.xo Very excited about @BeaconHillWeb & working with amazing cast & crew. “
So what do you think of Ricky Paull joining Crystal Chappell, Louise Sorel, Sarah Brown and God knows who else is the political intrigue and romance of Beacon Hill? Let us know!
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July 5, 2013 -
For Immediate Release
OPEN BOOK PRODUCTIONS AND BELLA BOOKS PRODUCTIONS WELCOMES RICKY PAULL GOLDIN AS A PRODUCER OF BEACON HILL
Open Book Productions and Bella Book Productions welcome Ricky Paull Goldin to the producing team of their new Web Series: "BEACON HILL" ? a continuing Drama that centers around the world of politics in Boston, Massachusetts.
Ricky Paull Goldin and his Production Company "GOLDLINE ENTERTAINMENT" are known for producing HGTV's
"Spontaneous Construction" and MTV's "All About the Benjamins".
"BEACON HILL" is Open Book Productions' first production partnership and the first venture into the Web Series genre for Bella Books.
Open Book Productions is an Emmy Award winning New Media Company owned by Actress/Producer Crystal Chappell. Bella Books is the largest publisher devoted exclusively to Lesbian Literature.
Filming is scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2013 in and around Boston.
Bella Book Productions and Open Books Productions announced today that former “Days of our Lives” and “General Hospital” actress, Sarah Joy Brown, has joined the cast of the webs series “Beacon Hill,” which follows the political world in Boston, Massachusetts. Filming is set to begin later this fall in and around Boston.
Brown, who portrayed the roles of Madison James on “DAYS” and Carly Corinthos/Claudia Zacchara on “GH,” will take on the role of state representative Katherine Wesley on “Hill.” The character is described as a “rising star in the Democratic Party, despite her family’s long history as staunch Republicans. Senator [William] Preston’s stroke may give her a chance at a larger prize, but Sara’s [Preston] return could make her doubt her next step.” The roles of Senator Preston and Sara Preston have yet to be cast. In addition to her stints on “DAYS” and “GH,” Brown had roles on various primetime series as well as stints on “As The World Turns” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
The “Hill” cast also includes Crystal Chappell (“Days of our Lives,” “Guiding Light” and “One Life to Live“) as Claire Preston along with Louise Sorel as Emily Tanner (“Days of our Lives”). The series is being written by Linda and Jessica Hill.
Read original story: Sarah Joy Brown Joins ‘Beacon Hill’ | Soap Opera Network
Bella Books is proud to announce a new partnership with Open Books Productions – an Emmy Award winning New Media Company owned by Actress/Producer Crystal Chappell. The first venture of this new partnership will be the production of a brand new web series entitled "BEACON HILL" written by Linda and Jessica Hill.
This will be Open Book Productions' first production partnership and the first venture into the Web Series genre for Bella Books.
"BEACON HILL" is a continuing Drama that centers around the world of Politics in Boston, Massachusetts.
Filming is scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2013, in and around Boston.
BEACON HILL the Series
Politics and Romance may never be the same.
General Inquiries: email@example.com
Press Inquiries: Leslie Penny of SPL Public Relations