DC Exclusive: The Bay Creator on Moving Poems and Letters From ATWT Fans, Mary Beth Evans and Being Praised by TV Guide!
The Bay returns this Wed., Sept. 29 at 3 pm EST, with not one, but two soapgasmic webisodes back-to-back! I recently caught up with creator Gregori J. Martin to discuss his buzz-generating, dream sudser come to life. In part one of a two-part chat, Martin reacts to The Bay being named one of the "Shows Worth Watching" by TV Guide Magazine. He also shares a moving account of all the letters and poems he's received from fans of the recently-cancelled CBS sudser As The World Turns, thanking him for offering them a new soap home.
Martin then reveals what's coming up for three former World Turners, who happen to play pivotal roles on The Bay—Marie Wilson (ex-NutMeg, ATWT), who will appear near the end of the first season as the mysterious Claire, Dylan Bruce (ex-Chris Hughes, ATWT), as troubled golden boy Brian Nelson and of course, one of daytime's most beloved superstars— Mary Beth Evans (Kayla, DAYS; ex-Sierra, ATWT; ex-Katherine, GH) as The Bay's central antiheroine Sara Garrett.
Martin expresses what it means to have Evans involved in the soap opera he's been working on for over a decade, not only as the star, but a producer. He also shares what drives Sara Garrett—despite all her faults—is her unwavering love for her three children by three different men. Martin also has kind words for all the web series pioneers who've inspired him, such as Andrew Miller and Eden Riegel (Imaginary Bitches), Martha Byrne (Gotham) and Crystal Chappell (Venice), while explaining how his 80's-themed pot boiler is unique.
Daytime Confidential: Congrats on being named Number 9 in TV Guide Magazine's "What's Worth Watching" Guide for their Sept 20–26 issue! That has to feel good?
Gregori J. Martin: Thank you. That came as a very, very big surprise. A few days after The Bay premiered, the magazine came out. It was pretty exciting! TV Guide actually reached out to us. It's funny because I have my personal email linked to The Bay website's email, so sometimes it takes me a few days to get through all the emails, and I almost missed the note from them! [Laughs] The reporter said she'd been hearing a lot of positive things about The Bay, and she wanted some pictures. I sent her the link to our Photo Bucket account. I didn't even know what was happening. Then I saw the magazine. It was amazing to be picked by TV Guide as a show worth watching with all the great new and returning Fall shows.
DC: Do you think losing two Procter and Gamble soap operas (Guiding Light, As The World Turns) in the span of one year has soap fans hungry to see the genre continue independently? Could that be helping with the excitement for The Bay?
GJM: Yes, definitely. We've gotten a really great response from fans overall. We're hearing from a lot of As The World Turns fans and I think we may only have two or three stars from World Turns on our show. We're getting poems and letters from fans, writing to us to say how thankful they are that we're bringing The Bay to the web, especially during such a sad time for daytime soaps. I think fans are definitely looking for something new to watch. That's had a huge impact
DC: One of the As The World Turns stars who will be appearing on The Bay is Marie Wilson, who played love-to-hate psycho NutMeg. When will she first show up on The Bay?
GJM: Marie appears much later in the season, and she'll be in season two as well. She's already been mentioned in the characters' discusssions. I don't want to give too much away as to how we plan to introduce her, but I think As The World Turns fans will be pretty excited to see her in this new character.
DC: Can you tell us her character's name?
GJM: Yes, it's Claire.
DC: Oooh, yeah! I remember them talking about Claire in the Confessions of The Garretts! I cannot wait to see Wilson in the role. She really came into her own once they had Meg go crazy in Oakdale. Of course, another World Turns alum you have in your cast is soap opera superstar Mary Beth Evans, who played Sierra on that show. She also plays the insanely popular character of Kayla Brady Johnson on Days of Our Lives and was on General Hospital as Katherine Bell. Mary Beth is without a doubt one of the top five most popular soap heroines of all-time. Thousands of women named their daughters Kayla in the 80's because of her DAYS character and the last time DAYS hit number one was Patch and Kayla's wedding. Have you been hearing from a lot of her fans who are happy to see her sink her teeth into such a juicy part?
GJM:You know, we have a really large fan base and I'm so grateful for all of them. This entire show, The Bay, is dedicated to the fans. I believe half of them, yes, are Mary Beth Evans fans! [Laughs] They are definitely very vocal and very supportive. I'm so grateful to have Mary Beth be part of the show.
DC: And she's such a sweetheart! We had a blast, when we had you guys on our podcast. One of the things I brought up then was how amazing Mary Beth's range as an actress is. On DAYS she played the sweet, wonderful Kayla, a classic soap opera heroine; on GH she was a bitch goddess, then on World Turns, she was kind of a complicated divorcee, who of course ran her own country!
DC (continues): On The Bay, you've got her kinda playing all of that. She's a bitch one minute, a heroine the next. Following Confessions of The Garretts—which were better than most actual web soaps' real episodes—and The Bay's first episode, we saw that Mary Beth's character Sara Garrett really has a topsy-turvy relationship with her three children by three different fathers. What can fans expect to see jump off during the next few installments of The Bay, in terms of Sara's relationships wiht her kids?
GJM: You're definitely going to see the love that Sara has for all three of them. It becomes really, really clear. Sara's made some unwise choices in her life, but there's no doubting the love she has for all of her children. One of the most important things for me, as a writer, is family dynamic.
DC: I've noticed that early on. My favorite web series thus far, Imaginary Bitches and Buppies, were both about groups of friends. The Bay is about a complicated, dysfunctional family, like daytime used to be. I haven't been this excited about an independent soap since IB and Buppies! You have a well-drawn matriarch, children, a true multi-generational aspect to the story. Was that a decided factor when you embarked on creating your own soap opera?
GJM: First off, I want to say hats off to all the creators out there who are doing web soaps, like Martha [Byrne] or Eden [Riegel] and her husband (Andrew Miller), or Crystal [Chappell], many of whom have inspired me tremendously. I would say I am kinda following the old, 80's soap formula. The whole idea in doing The Bay was to go back to the soap opera feel of that time, of when I watched as a kid. You know there are so many web series out there, like 700,000 or something. [Laughs]. I think there's room for us all!
DC: Definitely! Getting back to Sara Garrett's dysfunctional young uns', the only kid she seems to have a half way decent relationship with is oldest son Brian, played by yet another former Oakdale citizen, Dylan Bruce (ex-Chris Hughes). During the pilot, Brian had to leave his engagement party to take a cryptic phone call. What was up with that? What's Brian's big secret?
GJM: Oh, I can't share yet! [Laughs]. It will play out for most of the seaon. I will say it's going to be really interesting. Lots of twists and turns. Several times you'll watch and think it's one thing and then the next time you watch, you'll think it's something else. Just when you think you know what Brian's hiding—you don't! [Laughs]
Be sure to come back to Daytime Confidential.com Wednesday morning for Part Two of my chat with Martin, where he discusses recasting All My Children and DAYS alum John Callahan, with Santa Barbara legend Lane Davies; why Sara's relationship with her two younger children—Marlena "Marly" Nelson-Foster (former DAYS cutie Martha Madison) and Peter (Kristos Andrews)—is so effed up and how Martin navigates through rumors, negativity and hateration while attempting to launch a web soap opera. Until then, check out The Bay's IMDB page and watch re-watch the remastered pilot below!
Photos by Anton San-Katz and Winston Burris