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News & Cast Updates(News section last update August 9, 2019)
‘Empire’: Vivica A. Fox Upped To Series Regular For Final Season(8/9/19) There was a lot of news coming out at TCA regarding the sixth and final season of Fox’s musical drama Empire, including possible spinoffs and that Jussie Smollett would not be returning for the last hurrah. But one character that will be returning is Cookie’s older sister Candace played by Vivica A. Fox.
It was a given that Candace would return for the sixth season, considering she has appeared in every since she was introduced in season two, but Fox will now be appearing as a series regular instead of recurring.
During TCA, Fox told Deadline that she knew from the get-go she wanted to work with Lee Daniels as well as Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, who she had known for years and was more than happy to play Cookie’s (Henson) older sister.
Fox said that each year she has been on the show has grown and grown and that last season Candace went through a lot during her time in the Empire universe, but her huge storyline focused on mental health and abuse. We thought her character was being abused by her husband, but it was actually her son that was abusing her due to mental health issues.
“One thing I love about Empire is that they tackle taboo subjects that other shows won’t,” said Fox. “Now that I have been made a series regular, I want to find out more about my son and what’s going on — I don’t know yet so don’t ask!”
Fox said that she will head to Chicago at the end of August to shoot the final season. The sixth season of Empire is slated to debut on September 24.
‘Face The Truth’ Canceled After One Season(4/14/19) CBS Television Distribution’s Vivica A. Fox-hosted daytime talk show Face the Truth will not return for a second season, Deadline has learned, while The Doctors and DailymailTV have both renewed for a 12th and third season, respectively.
Led by Fox and a panel that included attorney and advocate Areva Martin, psychologist Dr. Judy Ho, actress, life coach and mom Rosie Mercado, and Judge Mary Chrzanowski, aka “Scary Mary,” Face the Truth, from Jay McGraw’s Stage 29 Productions, was described as having a unique take on talk by providing meaningful conflict with constructive resolution. Each episode featured real people presenting their problems big and small to the panel in search of solutions.
Face The Truth was produced by Stage 29 Productions and distributed by CBS Television Distribution. Jay McGraw, Carla Pennington, Patricia Ciano and Dr. Phil McGraw executive produced.
Hosted by ER physician and best-selling author Dr. Travis Stork along with co-hosts plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon, OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry and dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra, The Doctors delves into real life stories and celebrity exclusives and provides sought after answers, interventions and care.
The Doctors has received six Emmy nominations for outstanding talk show/informative, winning in 2010.
Taped in front of a live studio audience in Hollywood, The Doctors is produced by Stage 29 Productions and distributed by CBS Television Distribution. Jay McGraw, Carla Pennington, Patricia Ciano and Dr. Phil McGraw are executive producers.
In its first season, DailyMailTV, which hails from the team behind Dr. Phil, had the highest-rated national debut of any syndicated newsmagazine since 2007, according to DailyMail.com and Jay McGraw’s Stage 29 Productions.
The series features top stories from DailyMail.com, ranging from exclusives to breaking news, showbiz, crime, health and science and technology, five days a week.
DailyMailTV is executive produced by Carla Pennington, Jay McGraw, Martin Clarke,Dr. Phil McGraw and Jeffrey Wilson. Eric Beesemyer serves as co-executive producer.
Jordana Brewster, Vivica A. Fox, Anna Akana Join Brittany Snow In ‘Bailey and Darla’(3/15/19) Jordana Brewster (Fast & Furious franchise, Fox’s Lethal Weapon), Vivica A. Fox (Independence Day, Fox’s Empire), and Anna Akana (Youth & Consequences, Netflix’s upcoming Let It Snow film) are set for supporting roles in the indie film Bailey and Darla, which stars Brittany Snow and Sam Richardson. First-time feature helmer Nico Raineau directed the pic from a screenplay he wrote with Lauren Schacher.
The plot centers on Darla (Snow), a cynical reporter whose sex addiction is getting in the way of her sex column, and her evolving relationship with Bailey, a well-meaning sweetheart who’s been dumped by his fiancé Elizabeth (Akana) and learns he has testicular cancer (again). Together they embark on an impromptu cross country road trip, recreating Darla’s myriad trysts from state to state. She’s looking for a story and he’s looking for a last hurrah; what they find is something neither expected.
Brewster plays Tanya, Darla’s no-nonsense boss, while Fox is Cindy, Bailey’s loving but somewhat overbearing mother.
Snow is producing the pic with Yale Productions’ Jordan Yale Levine and Jordan Beckerman, and Highland Myst’s Jon Keeyes. Executive producers are Michael J. Rothstein, Matthew Heldermann, Luke Taylor, Shaun Sanghani, Sabine Stener, Martin Sprock, Ryan Johnson, James Sears Bryant, and Gigi Lacks, while Michael Palkovicz, Jackie Palkovicz, Alan Leibowitz, Jesse Murphy, and Kamar Kalpakciyan serve as co-exec producers.
Film Mode Entertainment is in charge of sales.
Kristoff St. John’s Ex-Wife on Their Heartbreaking Final Call(3/12/19) (extratv.com) (Video) “Extra” spoke with Mia, who opened up about Kristoff’s death and how she is doing today.
Mia admitted, “I have okay days, I have really bad days, I’m just waiting to get to the part where I’m having good days. It’s difficult 'cause it’s still early.”
She added, “I’m so used to having Kristoff as my rock… he was always just there for me.”
Mia also reflected on the last call she had with him before he took his life, revealing, “Even though we talked every day, this call was a very different call. He kept saying he wanted to die, but he said in a different way this time that really struck me. He tells me to hang on one second, that Julian’s at the door, and I just started screaming 'No!'”
Kristoff and Mia’s son Julian died by suicide at age 24 on Nov. 23, 2014, following a lifelong battle with mental illness. She said about Kristoff, “He was so tortured since our son passed, he felt so much guilt… he felt like he failed his son.”
Days before Kristoff's death, he was being treated for suicidal thoughts. She said that he was released from treatment too soon. “They were supposed to keep him on a 5150, which is a 14-day hold, and they didn’t, he was let go on the fourth day. I think it all boils down to education – staff needs to be educated, and there needs to be oversight and accountability.”
Mia vowed to advocate for mental illness and an increase in education about it. “I am determined to keep talking about mental illness, the importance of mental health, and how we have to change things, we need reform, and I am not going to stop.”
Mia is dealing with her own issues, and said the outpouring of support from fans is keeping her going. She shared, “I ended up in the hospital after Kristoff passed on a 5150… with the outpouring of support, I felt like I can do this, and I need to do this.”
Getting emotional, Mia explained she has to do it for Kristoff and her late son. “I just have to, I know they are on the other side rooting for me and counting on me to do this.”
Following Kristoff’s death, Mia lost her sobriety after 30 years. She said, “I’m getting there… I am working on it. All I can do is one day at a time.”
Kristoff St. John's Memorial Service Announced(2/27/19) If you would like to pay your respects to THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS star Kristoff St. John, there will be a memorial service held in California for the late actor. His ex-wife, Mia St. John, shared the information on her Instagram that a service and reception will be held on Monday, March 4, at Calvary Community Church at 5495 Via Rocas in Westlake Village, CA. The service is scheduled to run from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. “Join us and celebrate the beautiful life of Kristoff St. John,” she wrote.
The daytime community was rocked when St. John was found dead on Feb. 3, and his Y&R castmates have shared their special memories of their late friend. While the soap aired a short tribute video at the end of the Feb. 6 episode, they are planning a special storyline in April to celebrate both the actor and his character of Neil Winters.
Mia has also been vocal about sharing St. John’s final words to her before he passed away. “Spread his message far and wide,” she posted. “I know he meant it for all of us. He said, ‘Understand, you’ve got to live in the present. Observe all the good things in your life and others around you. Julian would not want you to live your life with bitterness and upset. It eats away at you and drains your life slowly, but surely. You must rise to the occasion and accept the beauty around you. You had 30 years, get 30 more. I believe in you.’
“As for the 30 years, he was referring to my sobriety,” she continued. “After our son passed, we both lost our sobriety. I held on for almost three years, then blew 30 years one year ago. But as I ‘trudge this road of happy destiny’ I know the universe has a plan and I will be clean and sober once again. #onedayatatime”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to St. John’s friends and family during this difficult time.
Dishing with Digest - 2/8/19 - Lauren Koslow plus the life and legacy of the late Kristoff St. John(2/8/19) (Listen / download) DAYS's Lauren Koslow (Kate) Shares The Highlights Of Her Soap Career.
Lauren Koslow traces her soap roots, from Y&R to B&B to her current role as DAYS's Kate, and discusses that blue streak in her hair and more with Digest's Stephanie Sloane and Mara Levinsky. Plus, we look back at the life and legacy of the late Kristoff St. John (ex-Neil, Y&R).
Jason Priestley & Annalise Basso Among Stars Of Lifetime Movies Based On V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family Books(2/8/19) Lifetime announced last year it was developing five films based on Andrews’ last known book series, about the twisted relationships of the Casteel Family. The first, Heaven, was filmed last year, and you can watch the first-look trailer above. The remaining four are Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise and Web of Dreams. The movie event series follows Heaven Casteel and her siblings after their father devises a scheme that threatens to destroy their dreams and separate the family forever.
As previously announced, Heaven, stars Annalise Basso (Captain Fantastic), Julie Benz (Dexter), Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries), and Chris McNally (Altered Carbon). Basso and Martin will return for the second and third installments, Dark Angel and Fallen Hearts, joined by Jason Priestley (Private Eyes, Beverly Hills, 90210) and Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl, Melrose Place). Priestley is also set to direct Fallen Hearts.
Priestley returns and stars in Gates of Paradise alongside Daphne Zuniga (Witness Unprotected, Melrose Place). Additionally, Lizzie Boys (Winter’s Dream) and Keenan Tracey have also been cast to star in Gates of Paradise and Web of Dreams. Jennifer Laporte (Freaky Friday), Max Lloyd-Jones (War for the Planet of the Apes) and Cindy Busby (The Big Year) also star in Web of Dreams.
Heaven, Dark Angel and Fallen Hearts casts also include James Rittinger, Matthew Nelson-Mahood, Jessica Clement, Samantha Coughlan. Additional Heaven cast members include Christian Convery and Madeline Hirvonen. Gates of Paradise also stars Johannah Newmarch (older Heaven), Jason Cermak, Michael Karl Richards, Pauline Egan, and Ben Sullivan. And the Web of Dreams cast also includes Liam Hughes, Tom Donadt, and David Lewis.
Heaven introduces the infamous Casteel family, the least regarded of all the families living in the poverty-stricken foothills of the mountains of West Virginia. Yet the eldest daughter, Heaven Leigh Casteel (Basso), was still the smartest girl in the backwoods and determined to redeem her family name. However, her dreams become deferred the day her stepmother flees and her selfish father Luke (Martin) sells her and her four siblings to different families. Heaven is sent to live in the home of Luke’s deranged ex-lover, Kitty (Benz), who torments Heaven as Kitty’s husband, Cal (McNally) lures Heaven into a forbidden relationship while she fights to reunite her siblings.
Dark Angel picks up directly after Heaven (Basso) finds a new life in her estranged grandmother and grandfather, Jillian (Rutherford) and Tony Tatterton’s (Priestley) exquisite Boston mansion, Farthinggale Manor. But even in the world of the wealthy, there are strange forebodings, secrets best forgotten. As Heaven reaches out for love, she is slowly ensnared in a sinister web of cruel deceits.
Based on the third book, Fallen Hearts follows Heaven (Basso), now happily married and ready to settle back in her hometown. But after a trip to Farthinggale Manor, Heaven is persuaded to stay. Lured by her grandfather Tony Tatterton (Priestley) to live amidst the wealthy and privileged Heaven seems to have it all until the ghosts of her past rise up once more, threatening her precious new life.
Gates of Paradise quickly turns tragic when Heaven’s daughter Annie (Boys) finds herself orphaned and crippled. Whisked off to Farthinggale Manor by Tony Tatterton (Priestley), Annie pines for her lost family, especially for her half-brother Luke (Tracey). Without the warm glow of Luke’s love, she is lost in the shadows of despair and forced into submission by Nurse Broadfield (Zuniga). When Annie discovers a cottage hidden in Farthinggale’s woods, the mystery of her past deepens. Even as she yearns to see Luke again, her hopes and dreams are darkened by the sinister Casteel spell.
Based on the fifth and final novel of the Casteel series the prequel, Web of Dreams finally unlocks the mysteries of the family. Heaven’s mother Leigh (LaPorte) had to escape from Farthinggale Manor and the secrets she harbored. Falling into the arms of Luke Casteel Sr. (Donadt), his devotion promised her hope as only Luke knew her deepest of secrets. Bravely she bore the suspicions of the hill folk, as she tried to grasp the happiness that long eluded her. With a baby girl, Heaven, on the way, she hoped for a chance at happy ever after.
Heaven is produced by Front Street Pictures for Lifetime. Executive producers are Harvey Kahn, Dan Angel, Jane Startz, Tom Mazza, Juliet Smith, and Marnie Termuende. Scarlett Lacey wrote the script for Heaven, directed by Paul Shapiro.
Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise and Web of Dreams are all produced by Neshama Entertainment and Really Real Films for Lifetime. Jane Startz, Dan Angel, Ric Nish, Cynde Harmon, and Arnie Zipursky serve as executive producers. Dark Angel and Fallen Hearts are also written by Scarlett Lacey. Paul Shapiro directs Dark Angel while Jason Priestley directs Fallen Hearts.
Gail Harvey directs Gates of Paradise from a screenplay by Gregory Small and Richard Blaney. Web of Dreams is written by AC Cochran and Mike Rohl is set to direct.
As Neil Winters, Kristoff St. John Was a Cornerstone in a Corner Office(2/8/19) (nytimes.com) Quick — name a transformative black television character.
James Evans. Cliff Huxtable. Olivia Pope. Cookie Lyon. Annalise Keating.
You only paused if you did not grow up, as I did, watching “The Young and the Restless.”
Kristoff St. John, who died this week at 52, originated the role of Neil Winters on “Y & R” — as it is commonly referred to by its fans — in 1991 and played it up until his death. With 28 years in the show’s fictional Genoa City, St. John was the second-longest-serving black soap opera actor, behind James Reynolds of “Days of Our Lives.”
Black men like Neil have been hard to come by on television. He was a young, up-and-coming executive at Newman Enterprises, fresh out of Stanford. He was self-assured without being arrogant, and down-to-earth without being a caricature or a clown. He was ambitious, he loved his friends, and he got along well with all of those veteran, high-flying executive types.
His obvious romantic interest was Olivia — doctor, sorority sister, beautiful. His longtime love, though, turned out to be Drucilla (Victoria Rowell), Olivia’s outspoken sister, who was also lovely but decidedly rougher around the edges. Drucilla was Cookie Lyon, minus the prison stint, before there was a Cookie Lyon.
I was groomed to care — our mother raised my brother and me while CBS soap operas played in the background. I knew about the Spauldings and the Bauers on “Guiding Light” long before I knew most of my classmates’ names at school.
I was more fond of “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light” — CBS programs sponsored by Proctor & Gamble — but my mother and my brother were all for “Y & R.” It was more glamorous; it had fancier sets and better lighting.
When we got a VCR, “Y & R” had to be taped everyday, so they could watch it in the evenings.
This practice occasionally annoyed me, until Neil, Olivia and Drucilla arrived. Then I got interested. Black folks! And black folks tackling issues of assimilation and acceptance. Could Neil take Dru around his work colleagues, who were not ready for her bluntness? Would it just be easier to woo Olivia and be done with it?
Neil and Dru became not quite a supercouple (see Angie and Jesse of “All My Children” if you want that), but a memorable couple. They dealt with the outlandish stuff that all soap couples endure — infidelity, secret-keeping, family tensions. But they were real with each other.
They teased each other, they fought, they made up, they confided in each other, saying things about the people on their jobs that they would never say in public. They talked about each other’s family members. And they could cut their eyes at each other in a way that eliminated the need for pages and pages of script.
They were hilarious, without trying to be hilarious.
They were black. And working hard. And mostly stayed out of trouble. And they mostly loved each other.
In the 1990s and 2000s, this was rare.
“Y & R” eventually created a whole complicated family life around Neil, while continuing to further his career. He went on to work at Jabot and at Chancellor Enterprises, the show’s other major corporations, and became chief executive at Newman for a time.
After Drucilla disappeared in 2007 (I know!), Neil mourned profusely. Then he got on with life.
He dated, he married, he divorced, he supported his daughter and his son. Whatever storm the Winters’ extended family found itself in, there was Neil, helping to hold it together.
St. John was still a young man on a veteran show. He could have had many more years as Neil, wrangling with a younger generation led by his children, Lily and Devon.
Through it all, Neil was not a thug, not a troubled child, not somebody the white people needed to save. He did not need “help.” He was an equal. He wasn’t anyone’s charity project.
All he needed was a chance, and Genoa City gave him that.
I stopped watching regularly long ago, but at least once a year, I’ll be home on a holiday with my brother and my mother, and one of us will turn on “Y & R.” We will marvel at how this one, or that one, is still on the show. We feel like we know them. We do, in a way. We’ve known them for over 30 years.
I’m sorry that Neil will no longer be a part of that homecoming.
Kristoff St. John, a Fixture of Daytime TV, Is Dead at 52(2/8/19) (nytimes.com) Kristoff St. John, who won two Daytime Emmy Awards during his long tenure on the CBS soap opera “The Young and the Restless,” was found dead early Sunday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 52.
Sarah Ardalani, a public information officer at the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office, confirmed the death. She said that an autopsy had been conducted but that the cause of death had not been determined.
Mr. St. John spoke openly about his depression after his 24-year-old son, Julian, committed suicide in 2014. Mark Geragos, Mr. St. John’s lawyer and friend, said in a telephone interview on Monday that Mr. St. John had told him recently that his grief and depression had worsened.
Mr. St. John began playing Neil Winters, a cosmetics executive who struggled with infidelity, alcoholism and many other plot twists, on “The Young and the Restless” in 1991. He most recently appeared as the character in January, completing nearly 1,700 episodes of the show.
He told The Toronto Star in 1994 that he saw Winters as “energetic and striving for the top spot,” someone who “doesn’t really see himself as a ladies’ man but rather quite sensual” and “very secure.”
Mr. St. John won 10 N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards for playing Winters, one of the longest-running African-American characters on a soap opera.
Kristoff St. John was born on July 15, 1966, in New York City and grew up in Bridgeport, Conn., and Los Angeles. His father, Christopher, was a producer, director and actor; his mother, Maria, was an entertainer. Both of them inspired him to enter show business.
“My dad is a producer-director,” Mr. St. John told the Canadian newspaper The Edmonton Journal in 2000. “Had he been a fireman, I’d probably be putting out fires.”
Mr. St. John began acting as a child. His television career started with an appearance on the sitcom “That’s My Mama” in 1975. He played a young Alex Haley in “Roots: The Next Generations” (1979) and had a recurring part on the television version of “The Bad News Bears,” on which his father also appeared. He was also seen on “Family Matters,” “Martin,” “A Different World,” “Diagnosis Murder” and other shows.
Mr. St. John’s two marriages, to the boxer Mia St. John and Allana Nadal, ended in divorce. Last year he became engaged to Kseniya Mikhaleva, a Russian model.
Mr. St. John had two daughters, Paris, from his first marriage, and Lola, from his second. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.
His son, Julian, an artist who suffered from schizophrenia, depression and drug addiction, committed suicide by asphyxiating himself with a plastic bag at a mental health care facility in Long Beach, Calif., in 2014. Mr. St. John and his first wife, Mia, accused the staff of negligence, filing a lawsuit against the facility and airing their grievances in an interview on “Entertainment Tonight.”
“My son died because there are millions of people suffering from the mental disabilities of schizophrenia, bipolar and being depressed,” Mr. St. John said. “And so at the end of the day his life will not be in vain. His life will be vindicated, and I will campaign until the day that I die to bring justice to my son.”
The lawsuit was settled in 2017.
Y&R's Christel Khalil and Bryton James Open up About Losing Kristoff St. John(2/6/19) News of Kristoff St. John’s death rocked the daytime community to its core, especially among the cast of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS where he had portrayed Neil Winters for decades. While Devon was Neil’s adopted son and Lily was technically Neil’s niece, he loved them both like his own children. And portrayers Bryton James and Christel Khalil loved St. John like their own father.
“As one of the lucky people to have experienced Kristoff’s spirit, love, and talent first-hand,” James expressed on Instagram, “I can only say thank you forever for loving me, guiding me, protecting me, and for teaching me every day how to choose to find the levity in life no matter what. I will never stop making you proud. I love you. My man…”
Like many, Khalil struggled to put her feelings into words but finally shared a heartfelt post to let everyone know what her castmate and dear friend meant to her. “I’ve been thinking for a while what to say,” she confessed. “How to express my love and gratitude for Kristoff in my life. I don’t know if I can ever fully express how my heart feels. I’m so heartbroken. I’m mad, sad, confused… but I understand. I’m thankful you’re not in pain anymore, such a deep pain that no one could understand. No parent should have to bury their child. I’m sorry you had to. I’m sorry you’ve been hurting so much.
“You were one of a kind,” Khalil continued. “I’ll never forget you were the first person who took me under your wing when I joined Y&R. You were the one who when I had my screen test, you helped me, made me feel connected and comfortable. I know part of the reason why I even got a role that changed my life forever is because of you. Your goofiness, openness, and genuine love and care you showed for other people was never overlooked. You treated me like your real daughter over the past 17 years. Between our deep conversations about religion to your goofy dad jokes, you’ve always had a special place in my heart. A place where a father should have been… I’m grateful I got to know you and share some of my most important moments of life with you. You will never be forgotten. I love you. I love you…”
Our thoughts are with everyone who knew and loved St. John during this terribly difficult time.
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