GH WEEKEND AUGUST 2003
MAURICE BENARD’S FAN EVENT
In an unplanned stroke of luck, I sat in the second row right in front of the podium and little stage. The lady on my left was a dedicated Maurice fan and a member of his vocal, visible fan club. On my right was a marvelous woman named Sylvia who has been watching GH since it’s 15 minutes a day beginning. She’s attended many fan functions during the years and she shared share a her memories with me. It was a pleasant way to spend the time while a young cute guy, also named Maurice, made the room ready.
And then it happened. Maurice entered the room and our eyes met. He understood the message I was sending and moved without hesitation to my side not acknowledging anyone else in a room that had grown strangely silent. Sitting next to me, he took my hand, leaned close and said, “I’d love for you to interview me…”
Someone tapped my shoulder from behind. “Stop it,” I demanded, irritated, continuing my conversation with Maurice.
Maurice leaned intimately close and said, “I’ve heard about your website, read your columns…”
My shoulder shook again, “Mom?”
“What?!” I answered impatiently as I lifted my head from the desk where I’d fallen asleep.
Darn, it was all a dream. Where was I? Oh, yeah…
Maurice finally made his entrance drinking a can of Red Bull, which Steve Burton told him would help his sore throat, and began by telling a few stories. Since my notes are brief, I am going to write this in short paragraphs paraphrasing Maurice’s comments.
MB’s parents attended the Emmy’s with him and sat next to Brian Frons. When MB won the award he looked down from the stage and saw Brian Frons hug his dad. Later in the evening, MB’s dad asked to meet Maurice’s boss. Maurice had to explain to his dad that they’d already met because his boss was the guy hugging him when he won the award.
Recently, Maurice was riding in the car and practicing his lines, saying them to himself. His daughter, watching him, couldn’t figure out what he was doing and finally had to ask to whom he was talking.
Diving into GH, he let it be known that it’s become somewhat dissatisfying playing Sonny since he can never payback any of the crimes perpetrated against him or his loved ones. He understands that he can’t kill Ric or Faith because they are characters on the show; however, from Sonny’s viewpoint, some serious payback is in order.
At this point one of the funniest moments of the event occurred. Jim Warren, photographer extraordinaire, (he posts many great pictures of soap stars at www.jimwarren.tv) came down the aisle in the middle to take a picture of Maurice. Minding his own business, doing what he does, he apparently didn’t consider that he blocking the view of an avid Mo fan. In a moment of silence she said with obvious irritation, “Sit down, Jim.” After a few beats of disbelieving silence, the room, including Maurice, broke up in laughter. Jim threw a startled look at the lady behind him and quickly moved back. The woman, who had obviously spoken impulsively, looked surprised at herself.
When the room settled down, Maurice asked what we would think if Sonny got out of the MOB? Another round of clapping and cheering swept through.
Bringing up Alcazar and Carly, Maurice said that Sonny’s acting like he’s not jealous but he really is having a hard time dealing with Alcazar pursuing his wife.
Maurice enjoys working with Rick Hearst and mentioned that when Sonny slapped Ric recently, Rick didn’t know it was coming. “Sorry Rick, I forgot to tell you I was going to slap you,” Maurice informed him afterwards.
Question: There has been a lot of action on GH, but not much time for the characters to reaction to situations.
MB: He agreed and stated that he’d much rather talk that do action scenes. He’d rather memorize pages of dialogue than do the action stuff.
Question: Did the panic room story get old?
MB: “It didn’t get old. Well, after a while it got old.” Maurice said he’d often watch Carly and Ric scenes on the monitor and thought they did an excellent job.
Question: Will more of Sonny’s family show up?
MB: He hemmed and hawed and then said he really can’t say. (Kathy says hmm, and recalls the Lilly returns rumor.)
Question: Will there be more fallout with Carly after her ordeal in the panic room and then with Lorenzo?
MB: Yeah. There’s some fallout. Something is coming up that could be interesting.
Question: How do you become so engrossed when you kiss a woman like when Sonny kissed Carly on the airplane after rescuing her in South America? (Gushed a woman obviously smitten with Sonny’s love scenes.)
MB: He didn’t remember the airplane kiss. He said, “They’re not real, real kisses.” Not like his wife where open mouth and tongue are involved.
Question: Who can we pay off so the baby’s name isn’t Morgan?
MB: Maurice laughed and pointed out that if something happens to Sonny and Carly, the baby would go to Jason so then his name would be Morgan Morgan. Keep writing in was his suggestion.
Question: The manic depression storyline wasn’t finished.
MB: I agree. It wasn’t finished.
Question: What’s going to happen with Ric? Does he face any consequences for his actions?
MB: It’s hard because he can’t be redeemed too quickly but he’s off scott free with no consequences. Not dealing with consequences is unsatisfying. “How to redeem Ric? I don’t know.”
Maurice returned to the previous manic depression question and commented that he wished the storyline had taken longer and had more effect on Sonny’s life. It definitely wasn’t perfect. He wanted Sonny to go to the hospital, straight jacket and all.
Question: What was the funniest moment between Sonny and Alexis?
MB: Nancy always made him laugh. Maurice loved Alexis as Dobson. The first time he saw her, he didn’t know it was NLG. He saw some weird guy in the hall and as they walked by Nancy said, “Hi, Mo.” For about three seconds he didn’t realize that it was her.
Question: For years Sonny has felt cursed. How will Sonny change when the baby arrives?
MB: “Well, it’s not Opie,” he replied jokingly. Maurice began scratching his forehead like Sonny and said, “Oh sh*t, I’m being Sonny right now.” He put his hand down and mused, “Yeah, he’s going to be tripping a bit.”
Question: What long term story would you like to see?
MB: He’d like to see Sonny get out of the MOB. Then worried, “But what if no one likes me anymore?”
Question: Would MB like Sonny to interact with more characters on the show?
MB: “No. I like having my own thing.” Right now he’s in a little world with great actors. “I don’t know. Whatever. I just get sick of myself.” He would enjoy working with Anthony Geary again.
Question: Would he want Cassidy to take up acting?
MB: At first he said no, it’s too hard. Then he tempered his comment by saying he wouldn’t discourage or encourage her.
MB brought up his personal commitment for raising money for the soldiers in Iraq. He told of a special he’d watched that moved him to tears over what the soldiers were enduring. (I am sorry. I was distracted here and I don’t have the name of the charity to tell you.)
Question: Will Sonny be present at the birth of his baby?
MB: 100% yes.
Question: Will Sonny find out about Kristina?
MB: Those would be great scenes. He mused on Sonny’s reaction saying Sonny would go beat up Alexis (not physically). He’d kill Ned first. He said, “Those scenes with Alexis would be balls to the wall.” Then he laughed at himself and said, “Did I just say balls to the wall?” Those scenes would be so good Dobson might come back. “I love Dobson.”
Question: How did he feel about Sonny kissing Faith?
MB: He knew it wouldn’t fly when he read it even with the FBI part thrown in though he liked working with the FBI guy. He didn’t want to play it.
Maurice said, “We just did something…” Then backed off the subject saying, “They’re gonna kill me.” MB continued with Sonny finds out about Carly and Alcazar. He reads the scripts and sometimes can make them work and sometimes he can’t. In this case, Carly comes home and Sonny asks her if she’s been with or seen Alcazar. Carly answers yes. Sonny was supposed to say, “OK, I understand.” Maurice said no, it wouldn’t work. Sonny’s not going to be all nice and understanding out of character.
He made us laugh by saying if he did that his Dad would call him and say that Sonny’s a wimp. His Dad wanted him to kiss Faith though.
Question: Would you like Sonny to kill Ric or Alcazar?
MB: If Sonny could follow through on his threats he’d kill Ric, Faith and Alcazar. He said that at times he changes lines because the lines are over threatening. He won’t handle a gun in a scene anymore unless Sonny’s going to use it. Otherwise, Sonny runs around making threats but never does anything, becoming unbelievable as a character.
At this point MB asked the younger Maurice for a drink of water. Young Maurice returned with a bottled water and a fruity drink. Taking the fruity drink, MB couldn’t immediately twist off the cap so he handed it back to young Maurice who couldn’t twist the cap off either. A lady in front offered to help but the stubborn cap still wouldn’t budge. A pretty lady in green who obviously worked out tried, first smacking the bottle on the bottom a few time to no avail. Finally, his fan club president tried and the cap twisted right off. As each person tried to open the bottle, the situation became funnier.
Maurice finally took a drink and the lady behind me, her adoration obvious, stood and said, “Keep doing what you do. We’re just happy to have you on screen.” Clapping and whistling swept through the room.
Question: What’s up with Ron Hale. How come he hasn’t had any scenes with Sonny?
MB: He didn’t know about scenes with Sonny but he thought Ron would be working more soon.
Question: Will Sonny and Ric ever reconcile?
MB: “No!” Sonny can’t kill Ric because he’s on the show. But Sonny, being Sonny, would have killed Ric and Faith would be dead too.
Question: A lady in back stood and asked, “Do you think your baby’s gonna be normal?” The room roared in laughter. She elaborated about Carly’s pregnancy saying she’s been kidnapped, drugged, fallen, chained to a wall and fed prenatal vitamins provided by Ric.
MB: “Rosemary’s Baby? I hope it’s normal.”
Question: Will Sonny and Alexis ever be friends?
MB: He wished they hadn’t messed it up from the beginning because he liked the friendship between Sonny and Alexis. They should have stayed friends. Kristina’s a good twist, but he doesn’t know what they (TPTB) are going to do about her.
Question: How much of Maurice is in Sonny?
MB: “I use everything. It’s like therapy for me.”
Question: Do you like that Sonny’s married?
MB: He remarked that usually marriage is the kiss of death on a soap. Only old men on soaps are married. But he enjoys married on screen because he’s married in real life and loves it.
Question? If Sonny’s character changes, what about Jason?
MB: He didn’t know how that would work. Then thought aloud that if Sonny exits the MOB perhaps he could become Mayor of P.C. and Jason could be his b**ch.
Question: What do you think of the irony of Kristina being raised by another man as he’s raising Michael instead of A.J.?
MB: He doesn’t appreciate the part of the story that keeps a father away from his child. If Sonny were going to be a real man, he’d try to work things out with A.J.
Question: Loved the AIDS storyline, especially the final scenes between Sonny and Stone. What did he tap into for those scenes?
MB: When Stone was dying in his bed that was the first time Sonny cried. MB used a memory of his dog. During the scene he was really telling Michael Sutton how proud he was of him and how he’d grown as an actor. Maurice also talked about Sonny’s last breakdown. He said it became very intense by the third week and in one scene, “I took it as far as I could.” He finished the scene and his hands were shaking. Jill came over and hugged him and he calmed down.
Question: How come there are so many short scenes lately?
MB: He’s noticed the short scenes too. They are great for an actor because it means less script to memorize, but watching must be a pain.
Question: What are some of the funny things that happen on set?
MB: When things get funny he pinches himself. Literally. The yacht scenes were funny. The script read that Sonny and Jason were supposed to gaze at each other as the seconds ticked by, but Maurice couldn’t stand there gazing into Jason’s eyes so he closed his eyes and looked down and then at Jason. The voice from the control room said, “Uh, Mo, you’re supposed to look at Jason.” MB couldn’t do it. He was laughing and noted that Steve didn’t question it.
Someone called out regarding a kiss between Sonny and Carly where the pregnant pillow sunk in. Another called out asking why Carly was only gaining weight in one place?
Question: Does MB like the friendship between Sonny and Jason?
MB: He thought the montage when Sonny and Jason had an argument was funny. He said Steve plays it up. MB thinks it’s corny, but Steve plays into it.
In the last few moments of the Q and A, MB said that Courtney is going to pay a price for her actions. He’s glad that Sonny is being nice to Courtney.
He also mentioned that he finds great satisfaction in helping other actors nail their scenes.
Question: What if Carly had a breakdown?
MB: Sonny would have one with her.
Question: Was that his Emmy on the mantle in the penthouse?
MB: He laughed as he noted that the set people thought they were clever hiding the Emmy on the mantle. They asked him later if he noticed the Emmy? Like he wouldn’t notice an Emmy on the mantle of the set he works on everyday. Of course he noticed the Emmy, but it wasn’t his Emmy.
At this point, some MB fans presented him with a champion boxing belt, which he immediately put on and refused to take off. The raffle began with lots of cool items being given away but alas, my number wasn’t called. I stayed until the last number was pulled because the last five prizes were pictures with MB. Now that I see how many pictures I have of me smiling with GH actors, perhaps it’s not so terrible that I missed this photo op. Hurrying, I scooted out the door and over to meet Katrina and Carolyn for the Tamara Braun fan event.
More to come!