Monday, May 19, 2014


May 13, 2014 Interview with GLORIA LORING.  A consummate singer and entertainer, Gloria Loring is the recording artist of the #1 hit song "Friends and Lovers," co-composer of television theme songs for Diff'rent Strokes(1978) and The Facts of Life (1979), an audience favorite from daytime TV's Days of Our Lives (1965), spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the author of seven books, a keynote speaker, one of the few artists to sing two nominated songs at the Academy Awards, and is the mother of world-wide singing sensation Robin Thicke.  Radio interview available at

OT:  Tell us a little bit about HEAVENLY and who you play in it.

GL:  This is kind of a short film from about 12 to 14 minutes.  It's about this woman, Johnnie that I play...who has a daughter and a little 8-year-old granddaughter.  She has had a tough life, but she has figured out how to survive.  She has had some drinking and drug problems -- which is good for me to play because I need to have a lot of compassion for her and feel that she's justified to have those things.  So I need to open my heart to people who have those kinds of problems.  I certainly have my own little addictions, whether they be to shopping or an extra cookie or whatever it is!  So I understand trying to fulfill one's desires or trying to anesthetize pain.  Johnnie has this daughter who is trying to be upwardly mobile in society with her church; and the daughter has this bible study class that meets at her house.  Johnnie shows up (with her big hoop earrings!) early because she gives her daughter botox injections.  Even though she's not a doctor or a registered nurse, she has figured out a way to make some extra money by getting Boxtox from Mexico.  She knows that her daughter has her bible study class; and she wants to get some new clients.  So she shows up.  Of course, there's a lot of fuss with the daughter about that.  Johnnie does wind up giving some introductory offers of Botox to a couple of women there.  It's about the relationship between the mother and the daughter; and what's actually going on behind the scenes.  The fascinating thing -- and I don't want to give the surprise away because it really is a zinger at the end of the movie -- is that the basis of this story was drawn from the headlines with a woman who was involved in doing something that got her arrested.  Johnnie seems to be the problem, the one who is doing everything wrong in this movie.  But in truth, she's not as guilty as one might think.  That's what's really fascinating.  I love that has -- like in any really good movie -- something that really gets our attention and leaves us talking and wondering and thinking and contemplating what's going on here.  It's going to be great fun.  I'm going to sort of disguise myself.  I went out and got a fabulous red and blonde wig to wear.  Johnny's much more flamboyant than I am in my personal life, although I certainly have been on stage; so I know how to be flamboyant.  We have wonderful actors in it.  It's going to go out to the film festivals; and we'll see if it goes somewhere from there.

OT:  The directors, John Stanley and Timothy Turner, were talking about using the film to bring back retro styles of cinematography.  For example, deep focus shots like in CITIZEN KANE.  Was that an appeal for you in doing this project?

GL:  Yes!  The video that I did for the appeal on Indie-Go-Go is shot in black and white.  We don't normally see many films in black and white anymore.  It really brings the eye down to form and structure.  Tim graduated from architectural school; and John is a photographer.  So their eyes are attuned to structure and form.  I think they're really fascinated with that.  They have a fabulous camera that they got in order to shoot this in the highest quality black and white.  I think it's going to look really beautiful.  I think it's going to be very attention getting.  The subject matter, the relationship between the mother and daughter -- and of course, the granddaughter figuring into that.  I had known John [Stanley].  Ten years ago or so, his wife was my assistant up here in Lake Arrowhead.  They've stayed up here in the community; and they have two little daughters. He didn't even call me.  He sent me a package and said, I'd really love you to read this script.  We're going to make it into a film; and I had you in mind when I wrote the role.  I read the script; and I thought I want to do this.  Most all of us are donating our services.  I don't think anybody's hardly getting paid.  We're doing it because we love the script.  We're doing it out of love.  And so we welcome people to go out on Indie Go Go and help support us.  There are all different levels.  Even with just a $25 donation to the film, you get to download the film; and you get signed posters as you go up the scale of how you can participate.  It's very exciting.

OT:  I think it's wonderful these days when people want to put together passion projects and get them up that they have these sites like Indie-Go-Go where people can help make these projects happen.

GL:  You get to feel like you played a small part in getting something accomplished.  You feel like you're one of the co-producers in a sense.  We've had some response already.  We're working on some larger donors.  So we're going to see how it all goes.  We're supposed to start shooting in a little over a month.  They have a lot to do in fundraising during that time.  I'm just letting people know that it's there.  Hopefully, folks will step in and step up and help us get this done.

OT:  Could you tell us a little bit about your book, COINCIDENCE IS GOD'S WAY OF REMAINING ANONYMOUS?

GL:  It's a memoir, but it's a memoir with a message.  That phrase -- coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous -- is a quote from Albert Einstein.  Someone said that to me when I was telling them of how some coincidences came into my life to help me raise millions of dollars for diabetes research after my son Brennan was diagnosed with diabetes.  I told the story of these coincidences; and this fellow that I was talking to said, Oh, but you know coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.  And I said, whoa, wait a minute, I've got to write that down!  Coincidence is what?  God's way of what?  Remaining anonymous!  It seemed like such a big idea.  It sounded really smart, but I couldn't quite get my mind around it -- what that meant and how that worked and all of that.  As the next several years went along, I noticed these coincidences that were happening.  These coincidings.  Just as I secretly decided to separate from my husband Alan Thicke back then -- Robin Thicke's dad, a woman started sending me letters of comfort that I had met once.  She had said, I just started getting messages for you.  I pray, and I'm getting messages for you.  The letters she sent to me were so enormously personal as if someone knew my greatest fears and doubts.  So that was another one of those great coincidences.  That's probably one of the biggest reasons I wrote the book is because of this particular story.  I needed to know more about this; and so I researched quantum physics because Albert Einstein was a physicist.  He had this great vision of the universe.  I also investigated spiritual traditions and observations from the great spiritual masters about what that presence and power and love many of us call God -- what it is, how it works, where it comes from, where it resides, et cetera, et cetera.  I found this wonderful junctioning of these two things.  This idea of a great spiritual beingness and quantum physics.  So I wrote the book with my personal stories with some of that information in it.  So people could get a bigger vision for themselves.  It's true that very often exactly what we need to know and exactly what we need to grow to the next level are just waiting to come into our lives.  Many times, it is whispering at us or tapping us on the shoulder or stepping into our lives in the form of someone who offers us either an opportunity or an obstacle to overcome.  If we have our eyes to see and ears to hear, if we have a bigger vision like Albert Einstein's vision, that these coincidings -- these meaningful events in our lives -- may be trying to tell us something.  If we have that, then life starts to become an adventure.  Somebody or something happens...and we go, hmmmm...what is this asking of me?  What is this drawing me toward?  What is this asking me to turn away from?  As opposed to possibly feeling like, oh, crud, another terrible thing happens or just my luck.  That sort of defeatist attitude.  There's lots of stuff that's real tough that's going to step into our lives, but if we have a bigger vision, we can then use those difficult circumstances.  That's what I'm able to do now because of all of this investigation and research.  This was a long process.  It took me over ten years to write this book.  So it's been really exciting.  I've been getting responses from people saying that this has really changed the way that they live their lives and look at their lives; and they go back to it again and again.  There's a lot of wisdom in it from different traditions and different great minds and hearts.  It's been exciting to hear how it's been received and used by people.

OT:  So you're also writing a column for SOAP OPERA DIGEST.

GL:  Yes, I write a column called "How to Drop the Drama".  When we get a really big vision for our lives and we know that things may come in that will challenge us for a reason and we can find that reason for ourselves, then our tendency to create drama for ourselves around difficulties subsides.  I've been teaching this and giving workshops for quite a while.  So with talking with Stephanie Sloan at Soap Opera Digest, my publicist said, you've got to share this stuff in a column.  So for the last year or so.  I may get myself back to my office desk and sit down and write another book -- because I have more than enough information and wisdom to go into it.  That may be one of my next projects.  But talk about coincidence!  I was here at the house; and I was working on some singing.  My manager and I were talking; and I said, you know, I really want to do some more acting.  Do you know within three days the script for the film arrived?  And also, I was cast in a play.  Within three days of just thinking about, hmmm, you know, I really want to get my feet back into acting.  I want to find those moments in that way again.  I do them with music; and I do them with speaking engagements.  It's about being in the moment and communicating.  I had a wonderful time in the play.  We were in Palm Springs.  It was written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron.  The play was called LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE.  It's about five women on stage who talk about these articles of clothing that they wore at pivotal times of their life; and how they remember those events in their life through the clothing; and the clothing reminds them of feelings and people.  It's very funny and very touching.  We had a very successful run.  I look forward to doing more now.  I do have some new agents; and they've been getting me out for a few things. There's a huge amount of competition, but there's a place for everybody.  I love doing the live theater.  I've always been a live performer.  Live first; and then television.  There's something about hearing the audience respond to you in that moment that is just so satisfying.  You're connecting to people.  One night, you do the line; and the laugh is kind of hmmm; and the next night, you go, I know what I've got to do.  I know what I have to feel when I deliver the line; and you deliver the line.  And the laugh's big.  And you go OK, I've found it.  And it's just so much fun!  It's just a ball!

OT:  Do you still keep in touch with any of your past co-stars with DAYS OF OUR LIVES?

GL:  Every once in a while, I run into somebody.  Our lives have taken us in so many different places.  The people I've had the most connection with through the years after leaving the show would certainly be Bill and Susan Hayes.  I've seen them a couple of times.  And Thaao Penghlis. Thaao's such a wonderful character.  I just love him.  He was so much fun to work with.  He was so energetic.  We just had a really good time.  Joe Mascolo has a home up here in Lake Arrowhead; so every once in a while, I run into him at the grocery store.

OT:  Do you look back and have a favorite DAYS OF OUR LIVES storyline that you're really proud of?

GL:  I was really happy that we got to do a storyline about diabetes.  My son had been diagnosed; and they decided to have Liz's daughter, Noelle, get diabetes.  That was very satisfying because I had had a lot of letters from people whose children had diabetes.  One woman lost her little daughter to undiagnosed diabetes.  She said, you have to let people know that this can kill.  It was really heartwrenching and very powerful to be able to bring the information and share that with people; and maybe make them a little more aware in case one of their children was diagnosed, et cetera.  I think that storyline was very deeply satisfying, to be able to do something that perhaps was more than just entertainment, that was really educational for people.

OT:  Not only do people remember you as "Liz" from DAYS, but now you're "Robin Thicke's Mom"!  Could you tell us anything about what Robin is up to right now?

GL:  I tell people I used to be Gloria Loring.  And now I'm #RobinThickesMom!  He is in the midst of all the upheaval of his personal life.  He has written in just a couple of weeks a brand new album.  More than one album.  He probably has two by now.  They are rushing that album to completion.  It will probably be out around the end of June.  He's working very hard.  I know he had a photo shoot for the album cover.  They are doing a video.  There's just all kinds of stuff going on.  In the middle of that, we're all taking care of his little son, Julian.  Everybody's managing really well, bringing the best of themselves forward.  That's who my sons are.  They both try their very best to be a good dad and a good husband and a good friend to the people they love.


Friday, May 9, 2014


May 7, 2014 Interview with MICHAEL CARUSO, creator and star of DEVANITY.  The hit web series is nominated this year for Best Web Series at the Daytime Emmy Awards.  This show -- full of dysfunctional family drama, sex, drugs, murder and a dazzling array of guest stars -- has been on the internet since 2011.  With its third season up for a nomination, OutTakes talked with Michael about this series.  Radio interview available at

OT:  Congratulations on your Daytime Emmy nomination for DEVANITY.  Are you planning on attending?

MC:  Absolutely.  Are you kidding? (laughs)  It’s not every day you get a nomination like this so it’s not one of those events where you say, yeah, I was gonna go but I decided to stay home and wash my hair.  My wife and I will absolutely be in attendance with several other people from our cast and crew.  We’re very excited about it.  It’s a tremendous honor; and I’m still kind of recovering from the shock of it all.  I don’t know if that has necessarily happened yet.  But we will definitely be there.

OT:  Have you been to the Daytime Emmys before?

MC:  I’ve never been.  We’ve watched it on television in the past.  At this point, I have a lot of friends who are on daytime.  So I watch all the interviews and the red carpet stuff.  I’ve never actually been.  It’s crazy because the ceremony is in downtown LA where my wife and I actually both live and where we filmed DEVANITY.  It is right up the street from us.  So it couldn’t be more convenient.

OT:  So how did the idea of this web series come to you in the first place?

MC:  We started DEVANITY in 2011.  The honest answer to this is that I always wanted to be on a daytime soap opera.  God has given me many wonderful gifts in life, but being an Abercrombie & Fitch model is not one of them.  So unfortunately it just never really panned out that way.  I realized that if I wanted to be on a soap, I was going to have to create one for myself.  We live in the jewelry district of downtown LA.  So we would walk by all of these beautiful windows with all of these amazing creations.  I turned to my wife one day and I said, “You know, nobody has ever done a show about this.”  I think ultimately a great soap at its core has to be about typically family – and something for that family to fight about.  That’s kind of where the genesis of DEVANITY began.  It’s about a family that runs a very dysfunctional jewelry empire.  That was kind of the birth of that whole idea.

OT:  That’s cool to create your own content.  That if you couldn’t get in a soap, you would make your own.

MC:  Yes, absolutely.  Honestly, I think that is where this industry is going; and not just with soaps…but movies and television.  A lot of people are now realizing that they need to reclaim their careers and the kind of characters that they’d like to play.  More and more people are doing that.  That is what is so spectacular about this category – and what is so spectacular about this online movement – is that it is really giving people this incredible chance to create, tell their own stories and do their own thing.

OT:  When I interviewed DEVANITY cast member Gordon Thomson, he was saying how DEVANITY was similar to DYNASTY, except with an edge.  Being able to do stuff that you couldn’t do in the 80s on ABC.  Did you watch a lot of primetime soaps as a kid like FALCON CREST or DYNASTY? Were those influences for you?

MC:  When those shows were on, I was a little too young to get them.  My grandmother’s favorite show was FALCON CREST; and the whole world stopped whenever it was on.  And then my mother and my aunt loved DALLAS and DYNASTY.  I believe DALLAS was originally on Friday nights on CBS.  I remember sitting on the steps in my parents’ house in New York, watching my whole family watch DALLAS.  Obviously we were in no way allowed to watch shows like that when we were kids.  I didn’t really discover DALLAS until many years later when I was in college.  There was a channel that doesn’t exist anymore called TNN which is The National Network; and they reran the entire series.  I pretty much fell in love with DALLAS; and I didn’t see DYNASTY until many years after that.  I’m a huge fan of those shows.  I find them captivating.  I love the concept of the high drama and high glamour.  It was not my intention to set out to duplicate either of those shows in any way, but I think it is such an incredibly flattering thing when you’ve got one of the major stars of DYNASTY comparing my little web series to this iconic television series.  I take that as a huge extraordinary compliment.   Working with Gordon has probably been one of the coolest things to come out of DEVANITY.  And we’ve actually become very good friends post-DEVANITY.  It’s been really great.

OT:  Speaking of DALLAS, also a congratulations for Charlene Tilton who won Best Guest Star at the Indie Series Awards this year…

MC:  She did!  Charlene is a firecracker.  She is so full of life and energy, so enthusiastic.  I have to give her props.  She joined us in Season 3.  She was supposed to return for Season 4, but there was a scheduling conflict; and she was not able to solve it and do the scene that I had written for her.  When I reached out to Steve Kanaly who played Ray on DALLAS for 10 years, he wasn’t familiar with the whole web series world.  He reached out to her.  And she said, “Steve, you’ve got to do this.  You’ve got to do this show.”  So she helped me get him on Season 4 of DEVANITY which was just incredible.  Sheree J. Wilson joined us in Season 4 as well as a guest star.  So we’ve got a little DALLAS contingency on DEVANITY which has been pretty exciting.  I was so proud of Charlene for winning that award.  She absolutely deserved it.  She did a phenomenal job.  A total dream to work with.

OT:  You also had some great daytime actresses on the show like Andrea Evans and Arianne Zucker.  How did you manage to get all of these amazing people?

MC:  Rewind to back after Season 1 had ended.  Season 1 was a very exploratory season for us; and we were really testing the waters.  If you had asked me when we started if we would have been in Emmy territory four years later, I never would have thought that in a million years.  We were just trying to create something and see where it went.  After Season 1, I realized that we really needed to step up our game.  I wanted to bring in some name talents.  Kyle Lowder, who used to be on DAYS OF OUR LIVES and BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL – he and I actually went to college together.  He’s a couple of years younger than I am.  One of our other cast members, Erin Buckley (who played my sister Jackie) was going to the Daytime Emmys years ago.  I said to her, “Well, if you happen to see Kyle Lowder there, tell him I said hi and see if he’d be willing to have a conversation.”  And she did.  And he was.  We brought him on in Season 2 as a guest star, which was amazing.  Kyle’s great; and I always love working with him.  In Season 3, he came on as a series regular.  One day, we were talking on the phone; and he said, “Hey, do you think you might have something for Ari?”  And I was like, “Uh, yeah!  Are you kidding me?  Of course I do!”  I had to twist it up a little bit…so I wrote her character as his character’s sister (which was kind of gross because they were married at the time).  Ari Zucker, I would say, has to be one of the nicest most down-to-earth women I’ve ever met in my life.  She is absolutely the girl next door.  She came on set; and she acted as if she had known everybody for a million years.  She couldn’t have been cooler and more go with the flow and just happy to be there.  With Andrea Evans – typically what I do is I just reach out to agents and managers, that’s how I hire people or ask people to work with me.  I have their characters already written so they get their script; and they get to decide whether they want to do the show or not.  We’ve been very blessed that the show does have a very good reputation in the industry.  I haven’t had a lot of problems getting the people that I’ve sought after.  We’ve just been very lucky in that regard.  And Andrea Evans is another one.  This is just daytime royalty sitting in my living room.  The most normal down-to-earth kindhearted person you could ever hope for.  We were talking about our love for animals; and she was telling us about her daughter.  Just a really normal lovely sweet lady.

OT:  How was it acting in a series that you were writing?

MC:  In the plus column, with the introduction of DEVANITY, I become so immersed in the world that I very easily slip into the role of Jason DeVanity.  He’s kind of like a second skin to me.  The bigger challenge is that not only am I acting in it, but I’m also the producer and the set designer and the costume coordinator and the crazy person that has to order lunch for the cast and crew and whatnot.  So I don’t think it’s necessarily the acting part that’s the challenge but the fact that I wear probably 15 to 20 hats.  In addition to that, I’m very fortunate that my wife is the co-executive producer; and she’s right there by my side.  And we’re working together.  I have a wonderful team of people.  A very small crew, but they are incredibly dedicated.  My director, Kelley Portier; her husband, Rod Portier, who is our cinematographer.  Everybody chips in.  Kelly has always been really great at saying “OK, Michael.  Now you get to just worry about being an actor.”  So we tried to make sure everything was squared away so when it was time for me to be in the scene, that’s the only thing I have to focus on.  Which is really nice to be able to do. 

OT:  I love the beginning sequence with the jewelry and the classical music.  Was that what you created?

MC:  I picked the theme music years ago that has always been our theme.  The wonderful composer, Vivaldi – a far more creative genius than I could ever hope or aspire to be.  It’s actually a program that I licensed.  I licensed the actual program; and then you slip in the moving images and screenshots of people.  We basically paid for that.  Rod puts it all together and adds the names.  So you have your great big opening title sequence.  I am a very big fan of opening title sequences from those shows from the 80s.  I think it really helps to get your audience churning and burning.  It gets them ready to go.  And it really sets the scene for what we are going to expect.  What is the kind of story that we’re going to tell?

OT:  So sadly this was the last season of DEVANITY.  Why bring the show to an end?

MC:  I’m a very firm believer in not overstaying your welcome.  Good storytelling has a good beginning, middle and end.  What I didn’t want to do is to keep it going just for the sake of keeping it going and then burn out and diminish the quality.  I really wanted to end it on a high note.  Keep in mind that we’ve been doing this for four years without major financing, without people to cut us checks.  We all do this as a passion project.  I can fairly say that after four years of burning the candle at both ends, I think that everybody was ready for a break and to walk away from it.  Those six or seven episodes – although the audience is seeing it in a six or seven week cycle – we’re looking at that all year.  From the writing to the preproduction to the production to the postproduction, we don’t ever get a break.  We all work full time jobs on top of it to pay for the show.  So I think that it was an equal mix of both creative and logistic decisions that it was a good time for us to say, OK, I can end this and be happy with how it is going to end and start on a new soap opera.  Work on something different.  As much as I love DEVANITY – it’s like my child – I love my show but it is time to move on; and it’s time for something new.

OT:  So you plan on working on more web series in the future?

MC:  I do.  I’m currently developing a new soap opera which I’m exceedingly excited about.  It’s going to be very fun and very cool.  I’ve talked to a couple of actors about it; and they seem very excited to do it as well.  I’ve made a firm commitment to take a break and take the rest of this calendar year off.  I’ll formally start preproduction at the beginning of next year.  I told myself that the whole purpose of ending DEVANITY was to take a little time off and recharge the batteries.  But you get an Emmy nomination…and it’s like Wow!  If that isn’t a battery recharge, I don’t know what is.  It’s all very surreal how everything comes full circle.  It has always been the little project that could.  I’ve always been very committed to never resting on our laurels.  We’ve been very fortunate.  We’ve got so many wonderful nominations from the Indie Series Awards and HollyWeb and all of these great festivals.  We’ve had a lot of love given to us.  And that always inspires me to say…how can I be better?  How can I make the next show better?  How can we really dazzle and excite the audience?  And tell a great story?  That’s what I’m really hoping to do with my next show.  So I think this is a really good thing.  We’re just going to enjoy the moment and celebrate four years of DEVANITY.  The truth is there are so many people that are still discovering the show.  That’s the beauty of a nomination like this is that it opens up the doors to a whole new audience – that you thought knew about it, but they didn’t.  They’re finding it for the first time; and they’ve got four seasons to play with.  I’m very proud of that fact.

OT:  It’s also exciting that ONE LIFE TO LIVE, the web series, is up for Best Drama.  That’s the first time ever that a web series has been up in that category.  So that just shows you how the world is changing.

MC:  I think that entertainment is changing.  At the end of the day, whether it is on TV or on the computer, a good story is a good story.  If you create a good story and fill that story with characters that the audience cares about, the audience is going to follow those characters.  The medium of either television or the computer is just a tool – just an instrument to tell those stories.  The most important thing is that the soap genre stays alive, that it thrives, that it’s healthy; and now you have this influx of new blood that’s willing to try things a little bit differently.  We were always the black sheep.  I don’t come from a daytime background.  I don’t have a soap opera pedigree.  I’m not a connected person in that sense.  So we really kind of came out of left field and were able to build that from scratch and cultivate that audience.  Soap fans are the greatest fans on earth.  They’re loyal.  They’re loving.  They’re passionate.  And they really embraced DEVANITY.  I think this is a very exciting time in soap opera history.  It was a little rocky there for a while but I think that the internet has given soap operas the opportunity to transform and to have a rebirth.  A dramatic Phoenix from the ashes kind of thing. 

OT:  When you look back on DEVANITY, do you have a favorite moment, storyline or scene?  Is there a special highlight for you?

MC:  I don’t know if there’s one moment in particular.  I think it was the first day – and it wasn’t something that you saw on screen – but the first day that Gordon Thomson filmed with us on the set.  We’re sitting there; and he’s telling us a story about working with Charlton Heston.  Then he started telling us a story about working with Jim Henson.  Then he started telling us about Aaron Spelling.  Those are three people that I worship.  These are the greats.  Gordon has worked with each and every one of them, talking about them from first-hand experience.  It was just this really surreal moment that an actor that I really looked up to was performing in something that I had written – and was generous enough to be telling these stories, not in a comparison kind of way, but just talking about his life and experiences – and being so grateful to be a part of DEVANITY.  Those are moments that you don’t forget.  Watching Gordon and Andrea have lunch and they’re chit chatting; or having Charlene or Sheree talk about their time on DALLAS.  We have two pitbulls; and Maxwell Caulfield loved to play with the dogs.  And I’m like, these people are in my home!  This is crazy!  Who does this?  Who gets this?  This is like a trip to Disney!  That’s what I take from DEVANITY.  Not just the celebrities…but all of these amazingly hard-working gifted talented people that have believed in my dream and worked with me to achieve it.  It’s been this delightful collaborative wonderful process that will I never forget.  



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