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DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 55 -- Fifty Fifth Anniversary Portrait -- Pictured: Ken Corday, Executive Producer -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
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Updated 7/17/23

Interview with Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and Paul Sciarrotta

TV Interview!


Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T'Shan Williams, Alana Boden and EP Paul Sciarrotta of "Flowers In the Attic: The Origin" on Lifetime

Interview with actors Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and EP Paul Sciarrotta of “Flowers In the Attic: The Origin” on Lifetime by Suzanne 6/22/22

This was a Lifetime event where we watched the first episode of this series and then asked the actors and executive producer questions.  It was unusual that we watched the episode first, live, right before the Q&A. Usually they put the episodes up on their press site for us to watch on our own time. It was nice to chat with these nice people, most of whom are British! The characters they’re playing are all Americans, though. I enjoyed the show and the panel. I hope you like the show! It’s a four-part miniseries that airs every Saturday starting tonight, July 9, on Lifetime.


Here’s the transcript, but it’s not edited yet. Check back to see it!

Please welcome our panelists for today’s Q&A with stars Jemima Rooper, Max Irons, T’Shan Williams, Alana Boden and executive producer Paul Sciarrotta. Hi everyone.

Thank you for being here today. Paul, our first question is for you. You both executive-produced and co-wrote “Flowers in the Attic: The Origin.” We understand that you were in close contact with VC Andrews ghost writer, Andrew Nierman. Can you please tell us a little bit about that process?

Paul: Sure. Yeah. We started about four years ago when the project was brought to me, and I, of course, had read Flowers in the Attic,” you know, maybe a long time ago. and I wasn’t, at the time, even aware there was this prequel book… and when I found out it existed and that Andrew wrote it, I was very excited. So it’s actually the first book that he wrote in the VC catalog…The first of, I think over a hundred, now, that he’s written. So it’s been a valuable resource to have him on speed dial all the time. I would call him, always. I still do for any questions I might have, if I’m ever unsure about story point or if something is totally correct. Or, you know, of the world. I can just check with him, and he has his finger on the pulse of all things VC. So it was…I was very lucky to have him be a part of the project.

Awesome. I will take some questions from the audience. Just a reminder. If you can, please make sure you have your first and last name so I can call upon you correctly. Our first question is from Suzanne at TVMEG.COM. Please unmute yourself to ask your question.

Suzanne: Hey, how are you all? I really enjoyed that. That was a good movie… or, it wasn’t a movie, I know, but it was. Let me ask you, Max: What did you do to prepare yourself for this role of being this horrible, horrible person?

Maxi: Hi, Suzanne. Well, I think for me, firstly, I had to get past the fact that he was horrible quite quickly. I had to look and find why he was the way he was, how he had learned to cope with the world as the world presented itself to him. So, the formative things I think in Malcolm’s life were his mother and father. His mother was the center of his universe was taught him about emotions, about love, about, you know, everything. They coexisted for the first few years of his life almost entirely. And then, all of a sudden, she left, and his father wasn’t around to help him process that or make any sense of that. You know, there was no modern psychology to come to his aid. He had tutors. He was sent away to a boy’s school, and he had to make sense of that. And so he did, and he hardened himself to the world and where his father had been through his, you know, through Malcolm’s understanding headness and not particularly capable. Self-serving Malcolm discovered duty and, and, you know, rigid a rigid work ethic and, you know, uh, where Malcolm had shame, he, he sought to, to, to elevate the Foxworth name and his business and make himself triumphant and powerful. And so, yeah, it was just looking at his younger self and yeah, and, and going from there.

All right. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Our next question is from my cues. Yeah, this is a question for Elena. Um, this is a really unusual role for you. Um, it’s, it’s not pretty unusual to have a romantic scene with someone who’s 43 years older than you are, but it’s not the cliche kind because you warmly like the man and he warmly liked you.

So it’s, it’s not any kind of cliche. So tell us a little bit about playing it, getting in the mood. And were you really familiar with Kelsey grammar ahead of time? To what extent did this become kind of a, a, a big challenge. Yeah. Um, I mean, Kelsey is absolutely fantastic and he made me feel so comfortable for some of the, some of the scenes, because like there is, there is like that really, um, really big age gap.

Um, But I think in terms of getting prepared, you know, we, we just took some time to, we worked with an intimacy coordinator. We took some time to figure out, um, how we think their relationship would be, how, what we were comfortable with. Um, and yeah, it was, it was actually really, really interesting to sort of work on that.

And, um, you know, I think for me, it’s, it is genuine love between the two of them. So to make sure that was, that was how it, how it was, you know, Perceived as the audience was, was really important. Um, but yeah, it was, yeah, it was really, it was really interesting Dean, like I say, he’s fantastic. And he was, you know, always making sure I was feeling comfortable and, um, just really worked with me and we worked together to hopefully create something that, that comes across really genuine.

Okay. Thanks. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Hanta Smith.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. Oh, okay. Is there, um, video on here? No video, just audio and we can hear you. Oh, okay. Perfect. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for your time. I’m so excited for everyone and it’s exciting series. I would love to know what was it like, you know, interacting with everyone on set and also what can the viewers expect when watching this awesome series?

Anyone can take that question, right? Uh I’ll I’ll go. I’ll go. I’ll jump in. Um, uh, it was, we shot the series, um, sort of in the height of the pandemic. We all relocated to Romania for four months. Um, and we became, uh, a lovely family, not quite the twisted family of the show. Um, and I think, uh, You know, I, I adored working with every single person on set and, uh, what was amazing is that as we were there after more time, the episode that you’ve just watched is very much just sort of the beginning, but from episode two and three to four, the whole thing opens up the children grow up.

Um, they come into it, um, the, the whole sort of premise six fans and, um, the whole S. Expands. And, uh, that was what it was like for us. Uh, in Romania, we suddenly got this injection of, uh, new minds and hearts and then while we were working and, um, and it was just. You know, gorgeous in, in every respect and despite, you know, how dark some of it gets.

Um, it, it was always a very happy set. I think sometimes when you’re doing things that are a bit darker or a bit more serious, you kind of find the fun a bit more on set. So it’s more enjoyable. Um, I think people are sometimes more miserable during comedy . Um, we had, yeah, we just had, uh, a beautiful time with, uh, a lot of really amazing people and we all just felt really happy to be working at a time.

Uh, it definitely felt like a luxury. Awesome. Thank you so much. thank you so much for your question. Our next question is from Jared Horton.

Hi, can you guys hear me? Yes. I am. Well, first of all, congratulations on the series. I thought it was great. Um, when I’m watching movies and TVs, I’m really big on dialogue and I thought you guys had some great dialogue within the series. I was wondering it was something that you picked up within your character that you took from, um, Um, afterwards in your own personal life, like she made the comment that a mother said forgiveness and revenge.

And I was just wondering, did is anything that you guys picked up far as wisdom or life lessons that you picked up from your character or just in general? Great question. I’ve started doing voiceovers in my everyday life. I now describe everything’s doing I’m going downstairs in the morning. Um, uh, no, I really, um, that’s a great question.

Um, No, I don’t think I, I sort of, sort of hope I haven’t taken anything of Olivia into my day to day life, but I tell you what I was thinking about this earlier today. Um, playing, playing that part, playing that kind of a role, um, playing this character that. I, I feel like it’s very far removed from who I am as a person, but she was so vivid on the page.

Uh, Paul’s writing what he did. Um, I sort of never had any questions as how to play her. And, uh, there’s something about playing Olivia. That for me was incredibly empowering and I sort of feel like that element of it I’ve taken. I hope that’s great. That’s great. Well, I think you did do a great job with the role.

Thanks. Um, I think it’s a great series. I look forward, um, to watching it more and congratulations to you guys, especially pulling it off during the pandemic. I just think you guys did a great job, pulling it off. KU kudos you guys over there. Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Dominique Clark from Ben worthy media.

Hello, all. Congratulations on this series. I mean, the trailer gave me goosebumps and I’m so excited that we’re finally getting the origin story of the grandmother who locked our children in the attic. Um, Seeing the story through Olivia’s eyes shows how evil isn’t born, it’s made. Right. And specifically for the ladies here, how did Olivia’s transformation throughout this series transform your individual characters?

How did you change as she did? I think, I will say with, um, Nell’s character, I think as she was a, a longstanding staff member at Foxworth hall and was quite used to, as max was saying, like the rigid rules of how it works. Um, I think meeting. Olivia and seeing that she had a bit of bite and spark really kind of opened up their friendship a little bit and it made it grow, which was really quite interesting to discover with Jemima.

Um, yeah, cuz I think, yeah, I think she, her character really like challenges him and um, and yeah, and I think with N working there for so long, um, and I guess. Conforming in, in a way until she kind of meets Olivia. I think it’s, um, I think she definitely, um, like made an impact on her arrival for vanilla.

Thank you. Any other other ladies or folks wanna share? No, that was too

Okay, great. Thank you guys so much. And congratulations again. Thank you our next, oh, thank you so much. Our next questions from Pauls.

All right. Hello? Hello. Thank you so much for being with us today. And, um, congratulations, uh, on this, this is fantastic. Uh, I gotta note because these characters are so different from you personally, um, everything about them, where they’re from, you know, and different time, everything, uh, what kind of Headspace do you have to for each of the actors?

Do you have to put yourself in to, to play these really dark roles? Cool. My personal experience, which may well be very different to the others. So, um, they, they must say as well, um, uh, the, the sort of amount that Olivia had dialogue wise, um, and scene wise, especially sort of at the beginning, it kind of eased up a little as we got into it.

Um, Sort of so full on. Um, I remember I just had to be, I just to get one foot in front of the other and to know my lines and turn up on set was what I could manage at the time. Um, which in a way is really liberating and kind of makes it easier because otherwise you can. Get, I very often get stuck in my own head and think too much about everything.

Um, and sometimes, you know, after the event, you look at things and think, oh, I wish I wish I’d thought about this, or I wish I’d done that differently. Um, but. Such a sort of big undertaking in so many ways is actually in some ways easier and, and, uh, yeah, more, more freeing, more liberating, um, than sometimes not having so far to go with a character.

Um, it’s, you know, I find it easier to be further away from myself, I think, but, and normally I do lots of research, but, uh, in this. I, and I, I think with regards to Malcolm, um, you know, a lot of credit goes to Paul for, for, you know, when, when the writing’s good, it helps those neurons connect sort of effortlessly, and you don’t have to.

To force anything, but sort of, it returns to my first, um, thing I said at the beginning that, you know, when, when you are evil, when a person’s evil, they don’t wander around thinking they’re evil. You know, they, they wander around thinking what they’re doing is right and proper. And just, but I, I do know, um, I spent quite a lot of time in the early days trying to convince people that I wasn’t an asshole.

There was a, there was a picture of me in the production office. You know, all the actors have their faces up in the production office. And my everyone elses was lovely. My picture, I looked like an asshole, like really smug. And then I thought, oh shit, they’ve seen that. Now I’m cast as this, this asshole.

How is your so I, I, I dunno if I can say anyway, I spent a lot of time giving people cups of tea, that sort of thing. And, and trying not to be an asshole. Um, yeah. Yeah. Sorry. Todd was one thing there too. Um, like Jeremiah was saying we had a lot to do in a limited amount of time. And, um, I, I can’t necessarily speak to what everyone did individually creatively to prepare for that, but I certainly can speak for when they showed up, everyone was on point, smiling, prepared, professional, lovely.

Um, and that is, you know, that’s pretty special when that all comes together. So I felt like the lucky recipient of all that on my end. So thank you to you guys. Thank you so much, Paul and max, that was a great answer. And you are allowed to curse here, so it’s okay. oh really? Oh, great. Let’s go away. OK.

Thank you so much. Thanks, Paul. Our next question is from women for the culture.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. There you go. Okay. Hi. Thank you guys for having me. My name is Natasha and I’m with women for the culture. My question is for, to Sean. Um, I just wanted to ask you, so from the moment we meet your character, Noah, we can tell just by looking in her eyes that she’s compassionate, caring and knows something that everybody doesn’t know right now, especially when we see the scene from your daughter.

But I just wanted to know why do you think black women’s first instinct is to go into protective mold, even when we barely know, um, their person. Well, I think if you think about the time that this is set in, um, it’s a very, very good question. And I found myself asking that question in my process as well.

Um, especially in scenes where I found myself helping, um, Olivia and. Because in some ways, she’s very much the more compass of, of, um, the story when all of this madness is going on. And sometimes I find myself asking that question as well, um, for my process, but, um, I think is she’s a rock for her family and she’s also a very fiercely loyal friend and, um, And I think if, if we look at the time, as I was about to say, if we look at the time that this is set in, it would be very unlikely that her and Olivia would probably even strike up a friendship with one that’s lasting anyway.

So it’s just a, a very specific circumstance that they have kind of built their friendship on. And I guess you’ll see more, more about that when the other episodes come out and more be clear, um, about, um, maybe ask, answer your question more, but, um, yeah, I can say that. She’s got a really good heart, I think.

Yeah. Thank you so much for that answer. And I can’t wait to see Noah’s, uh, story unfold more throughout the series. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Karen Mo from sci-fi vision. Hi everybody. Um, thanks for doing this. My question is for Paul, I’ll try to keep it short. Um, flowers in the attic has been adapted before.

I think the last time lifetime did so was in 2014 and 15. Um, in the, since then audience standards and industry standards for how you adapt and present some of this really sensitive, uh, material rape incest abuse. Um, Has really changed. And I wonder if you could speak for a minute about your approach and lifetime’s approach and how it may have evolved in the last few years.

Sure. Um, I can’t speak to how their other, um, flowers movies were produced. I wasn’t a part of those back then, but I do know that from the very beginning of my working with them, they were, um, incredibly supportive, incredibly collaborative. Um, and what we had was this, um, this source material. Where so much of the main character story was based on this sexual assault.

And it was a balancing act that I worked with with my, um, my, my producing team in Los Angeles and all the great executives at a and E in lifetime, trying to figure out just how much of that assault do we show and how do we show it. Um, and in order to tell the story best, uh, and I hope we struck. A good balance.

Um, I was very grateful to have such, um, open partners with it. And the other piece of it was Jemma for the, um, on set. We talked, um, a lot with the intimacy quarters and everyone else, but even about certain lines, you remember, we were talking about a line in the fourth movie, um, with Paul Wesley and, and Jemima.

And it was something about how she didn’t wanna, like, I think the line I had written was allow someone to control me again. And we talked a lot about that in that tent of all the mosquitoes. I remember that. Um, we changed the line. Um, and I think it’s that kind of conversation, um, that I hope helped tell Olivia’s story in a thoughtful and sensitive and productive way.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Mr. Dark eye podcast.

Please unmute yourself to ask your question. Thank you. Yes. All right. Can Y. Yes, we, yeah. All right. So my question is for max, um, in your role, like with you having to be evil and, um, you know, play that role so well, what was your inspiration to be so into the character the way you was and how did you really tap in?

Oh God. Um, I, for fear of repeating myself, um, You know, there there’s, there was a few, obviously the cast, uh, helped enormously. Um, you know, also as an actor, when you have wonderful costumes and you have wonderful sets that also helps a great deal. Um, but yeah, I just, I like, like I said, I sort of just had to tune into the, the child inside of Malcolm.

That was the tapping in, uh, and, and, you know, these days we, we are so there’s so much modern. There’s therapy available. There’s psychology and there’s, you know, the way parents work with their children. Now it was these things were unheard of in those days. Um, and we, we take these things for granted, modern parental thinking and, and trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder and all these sorts of things.

Um, Malcolm was just left to figure it out and it didn’t, he didn’t figure it out. He didn’t. Do a good job, but he, he, he did so in a way that enabled him to survive. Um, and that’s how I have to look at Malcolm. Uh, and, and out of that way of thinking comes his evil. And, and that for me is, is a byproduct of that, that interior life think.

Thank you for that. And you did a very convincing job, so that just means you’re good at what you do. thanks. You guys also very kind and put a lot of people on set at ease with his kindness with, with, with that kind of material. Um, and it takes a very special to person to do that. And we had that in that, so, yes.

Oh, thanks. Cool. I’d like to add as well that, um, I know probably a lot. Male actors who would just a approach it as is wouldn’t, wouldn’t struggle playing this sort of a role would probably quite enjoy it. And max is, you know, the opposite of Malcolm. He is, um, such a lovely person. And for him to get to those places was a struggle.

And the struggle is what makes the character more interesting and more layered. And so it’s only better for that. I. I agree. Nice guys go. This is nice. Thank you so much for your question. Our next question is from Towanda Blake.

Hi. Um, my question is what was it like filming inside of a, the pandemic? And did, do you think that offered you more? I’d say it stretched you more to bring perfection to your characters.

Yes, I think, uh, in a way it did, it was this sort of quite surreal bubble. Um, I think for us all to be away from home for as long as we were, um, normally people, if you are filming, you know, outside of home, you are in and out or, um, You’re not really with each other. And it was such a shared experience, the whole thing, onset and offset, and, uh, Yeah, I think there was such a, a lovely feeling because you did, everyone felt really grateful and really privileged to be working.

And it was also really interesting work and everyone really looked out for each other, the, the credo all the way through the crew from the top to the bottom, um, it, it felt very collaborative and very supportive. And I think that’s quite rare to that extent. And, um, and that made. Very special. Um, it wasn’t just another job, I think.

Thank you. Awesome. Thank you. We have time for one more. Our last questions from Aries, urban bridges.

Hi, everybody. I’m gonna echo everybody else. You guys did a great job. I love the movie. I’m gonna address my question to Taan. Besides it being an epic book. First, what made you want to be a part of this role and play Nella and flowers on the. Oh, because, because she’s not part of the books because, because I could, because I could, um, Paul really gave me the reigns to like build on her from the ground up and I kind of just got to implement her story, um, where it wasn’t there before.

And, um, yeah, so I just got to bring this completely fresh character to such a huge franchise of, of a book. Um, Book series and I just, and I thought her character was really interesting, um, and layered and, um, Yeah. And quite exciting and important as well to the story. Yeah. Um, as I said, like her being, um, like the moral compass of, of the story for a lot of the, a lot of this, um, episodes, um, and her family, which you’ll get to meet in the other episodes and, and yeah, you get to see a bit more of her when you see her family as well.

And that’s all really exciting and they’re all brilliant actors as well. And yeah, so it, I mean, it. It wasn’t hard. That’s, that’s an easy, it wasn’t very hard. yeah, it makes a lot of sense, but you brought the character. Great job again. Continued success. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you everyone for such great questions.

Thank you to our panelists. You guys were amazing as always. And thank you all for joining today’s advanced screening of part one. If we did not get to your question, I know we dropped this in the chat as well.


Official Site and Preview

"Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" key art

Flowers in the Attic: The Origin tells the story of the headstrong and determined Olivia Winfield (Rooper) who is working alongside her beloved father (Hamlin) when she finds herself unexpectedly wooed by one of the nation’s most eligible bachelors, Malcom Foxworth (Irons). After a whirlwind romance, Olivia finds herself as the mistress of the imposing Foxworth Hall, where she soon discovers that the fairytale life she expected has quickly become a nightmare.  Under Malcolm’s debonair exterior lies a dark heart, and a twisted evil lurks inside Foxworth Hall that will threaten Olivia’s happiness and that of her children. Her attempts to keep them all safe ultimately push Olivia to become to most terrifying version of herself, leading to her inevitable—and notorious—decision to lock her grandchildren in the attic…

Dodd stars as Olivia’s daughter, Corinne; while Williams takes on the role Foxworth Hall’s longtime staff member and Olivia’s observant housekeeper, Nella. Mulgrew plays Mrs. Steiner, Malcom’s loyal house manager and head of the Foxworth Hall staff. Grammer portrays Malcom’s illustrious father Garland Foxworth, who is married to new wife Alicia, played by Boden. Wesley stars as John Amos, Olivia’s cousin whose revelations change her life forever and Callum Kerr stars as Christopher, a close relative of the Foxworth family whose life will be eternally intertwined with Corrine’s from the moment they set eyes on each other.

Additional talent starring in the four-part miniseries event includes Luke Fetherston, Buck Braithwaite, Jordan Peters, Evelyn Miller, Rawdat Quadri, Emmanuel Ogunjinmi, David Witts, Carla Woodcock and Peter Bramhill.

Flowers in the Attic: The Origin is an A+E Studios production in association with Sutton St. Productions and CBS Studios. Paul Sciarrotta serves as executive producer. Jennie Snyder Urman and Joanna Klein serve as executive producers for Sutton St. Productions and CBS Studios. Zoë Rocha serves as executive producer for RubyRock Pictures, Gary Pearl executive produces for Aquarius Content and Dan Angel executive produces. Declan O’Dwyer also executive produces and directed part one and part two of the miniseries. Robin Sheppard serves as director for parts three and four. Scripts are from executive producer Paul Sciarrotta, as well as Amy Rardin and Conner Good. Flowers in the Attic: The Origin is based on the prequel novel, Garden of Shadows by Andrew Neiderman. The miniseries was made with support of the Romanian Government.

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Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Irons and Rooper in "Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" on Lifetime

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Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman

TV Interview!

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on Lifetime

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of “Christmas Dance Reunion” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This was part of a Lifetime Christmas press panel. I really enjoyed seeing the movies and speaking everyone. What made this movie so special is all of the great dancing. It was nice to chat with these two. Corbin used to be on “One Life to Live,” so I was thrilled to speak with him.

MODERATOR:  Hi, everyone, and welcome to our third panel for today.  I would like to introduce Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu of this year’s “A Christmas Dance Reunion”.  We’re gonna go ahead and get the questions started.  Noah has the first question.  Noah?

QUESTION:  Hello.  It is so great to be here with you guys.  By the way, you look fabulous and happy holidays to both of you.  My first question is to you, Corbin.  We see two high school dance partners get back together for the holidays.  So many fans from “High School Musical”, including myself, will watch this and think this is the perfect holiday storyline for the two of you, as you both have worked together on the Disney Network in “High School Musical”.  But how does this holiday story throw us back to some of the “High School Musical” memories?  Because I did see a photo when I screened of you and Monique, and it was back during — I think in the gym of “High School Musical”.  I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is fantastic.”

CORBIN BLEU:  Honestly, getting to work on this project settled so many dreams coming true.  At this time, I mean, it was October of 2020 when we went out to go shoot, so coming on the tail end of a quarantine and not working for a period of time.  It was also election time.  There was a lot of — just a lot of chaos at the time and in our minds.  And all of a sudden, we go on this journey to go to Canada, get out of the U.S. for a minute.  And we get to reunite in this film that we haven’t been on screen together in 13 years.  And when I tell you every single moment on set was just comfort.  And there are a lot of moments in the film that when I watched it looking at just how easy the romance comes and how easy the connection came, and that was real.  I mean, it just — it’s…it truly is such a beautiful, wonderful thing to be able to work with a person that you love from the bottom of your heart.  I mean, Mo, I love you.  You’re, like, you’re —


CORBIN BLEU:  You’re my sis.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I’m like, oh my God.

CORBIN BLEU:  There was just so — honestly, I could go on and on so much because then on top of it, my wife, Sasha Clements, is also another lead part in the film.  So there was all of this just love, just this lovefest on camera and on set.

QUESTION:  Now, Monique, just speaking of “High School Musical”, there was a lot of dance that would go on in the show.  Because it was a musical, there was a lot of dance routines that would happen.


QUESTION:  I really think dance brings us together and I think that definitely shows in this holiday movie.  So lastly, how was the process of nailing down a dance routine with Corbin Bleu when you guys got to reprise and really just do this again, just be able to dance together?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.  I think Corbin really said it well.  The thing is that we were safe, you know?  We felt like we were safe, we were comfortable.  And that is such an important part of telling any story is making sure that you have that connection.  But another thing that I think is really interesting is Corbin started dancing when he was two or three years old.  I started dancing when I was in fourth grade.  And something that’s really interesting is that our lives didn’t begin with “High School Musical”.  Obviously, that is an amazing part of our journey, and it’s a peak, and we’re so — we will always be so proud of it and excited to talk about it and share.  But what I thought was really interesting was that this story to me brought the two of us back further than where we were when “High School Musical” started.  It brought us back to the roots of who we are and it reminded me that I danced as a kid.  And this moment didn’t make it in the movie, but there are photos in the hallway of my fictional house that are pictures of me when I was 10, 12, 15, 17 years old with these big dreams in my mind.  And to see that and then to actually see photos of us from when we were on tour — one of the photos is actually from the Macy’s Day Parade.  And I remember that so distinctly.  And I remember how I felt in that moment.  And then to fast forward to today and to be able to bring all of who we are together and for that to be on screen, I think it absolutely captures the magic that you all felt when you saw “High School Musical”.  But I also think that this movie is going to do something really special and allow you to get to know Corbin and I in a way that you probably honestly haven’t seen prior to now which is really, like, who we’ve always been.

QUESTION:  Thank you guys for your time.  I appreciate it.


CORBIN BLEU:  Thank you.


MODERATOR:  Thank you, Noah.  Alright, up next I have Mike from TV America.  Mike?  I’m gonna give him a moment.  Oh, there he is.

QUESTION:  Okay, can you hear me now?


QUESTION:  Can you hear me okay now?


QUESTION:  Okay, good deal.  Hey, Corbin, I wanted to ask you to kind of continue on what Mo was saying a minute ago.  Because we have a lot of movies that are about singing, not as many movies that are based on dance.  And dance has been so much a part of your life forever.  I mean, talk about starting to take dance when you were two or three years old.  Talk about what it was like as a kid and how important it is to be able to get back to a dance-based show like this sometimes.

CORBIN BLEU:  Well, again, this movie is a lot of art mimics life and vice versa.  There’s a lot of meta moments.  I started dancing when I was about two years old.  And I started with tap and ballet, and that was always my first love.  And I started acting early, as well, and I started singing early, as well.  But dance was just always my form of expression.  And to this day, it’s just the one thing that just comes naturally, just comes easy.  If there’s ever — you know, there are times when people just — they just want to sing and it just needs to come out of them.  And my body just expresses it through dance.  And when I tell you the character, both of them, both of the characters are just so rooted in realism.  They both found this joy and this love of dance at an early age.  My character, Barrett, actually continued on with it and went on to become a Broadway stage performer, very much like real life.  And Monique’s character goes on to actually become a lawyer and dance is still this joy, this love that’s just hanging right behind her that she’s just wanting to turn back and find again.  And I know — I’m gonna just speak for Mo a little bit, yeah, I know that she has gone on to do just such incredible serious, wonderful things in this world.  I mean, she’s a U.N. ambassador.  So again, I know for me getting to dance with her and her getting a chance to also re-find a joy of dance and that love in this, it was incredible.  And I’ve got to also do one more shoutout to our director and our choreographer —


CORBIN BLEU:  …Brian Herzlinger and Christian Vincent because the turnaround on this was not “High School Musical”.  You know, “High School Musical” we had…


CORBIN BLEU:  …like, at least — at least — two days per number, at least.


CORBIN BLEU:  This we shot — I think majority of the final dance routines were shot in one day.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  In a day, yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:  One day.  And the other dance routines, everything else that you see was shot in one other day.  So just an insane amount of hard work.  And to top it all off, there were things that were implemented that weren’t originally in the script, one being my tap number.  One number in the movie that really is such a pivotal story moment that you actually get to really see Barrett’s love for dance and where his spirit really flies is this tap number that was never in the script, was never a part of rehearsals, until we were like three — I think we were three or four days from getting ready to start shooting.  And I knew that they were gonna do this other tap number and I said to Brian, I was like, “Brian, you know that I tap, right?”  And he goes, “Wait, what?”  I was like, “Yeah, I love tapping.”  And he said, “We should implement that.”  And Christian, freaking incredible man that he is, threw together this tap number.  And we worked on this over the next couple weeks before we had to shoot it and implemented this number.  And it turns out to be such a beautiful moment in the movie.  Just really, really wonderful that they allowed such input and organicn-ess to free flow.


QUESTION:  Okay, cool.  Thanks.

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Thank you, Mike.  And our next question is from Suzanne.


QUESTION:  Hi.  I really enjoyed the movie.  I loved watching it.  It really made me wanna go to the Winterleigh.

CORBIN BLEU:  Awesome.

QUESTION:  Where was it actually filmed?

CORBIN BLEU:  We shot up in Vancouver.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes.  Toronto.

CORBIN BLEU:  I’m sorry — Vancouver — Toronto.  We filmed up in Toronto, I’m sorry.


CORBIN BLEU:  The other side of the country.  We shot up in Toronto at the…

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Where were we?  I’m like…

CORBIN BLEU:  Horseshoe.  Horseshoe.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  That’s right.



CORBIN BLEU:  Yeah, the hotel.

QUESTION:  Oh, okay.  Great.  And Monique, what was the thing about it that was the most challenging for you?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I think letting it be easy.  That was the most challenging thing was just allowing it.  You know, we’re in an industry that can just be so difficult in so many different ways.  And this was an experience that Corbin was speaking of earlier that was in the midst of a very active world pandemic.  We were in the midst of a very intense election in the U.S.  And we’re storytellers.  And we kept reminding ourselves that we got to be the magic makers of the moment.  We get to be the lightworkers.  We get to be the ones that are going to be a part of helping people to have the joy that we all deserve when this all is over.  And so for me, to be honest, yes, learning the dances was challenging.  Spending two weeks in quarantine and then going from basically zero to hero and having not worked pretty much all year long, having definitely not danced or been in a studio at all.  And I actually turned 40, so I was like my knees are not — they’re not capable of doing this which is actually really hilarious because that is something that Lucy talks about as her character.  But it’s very real for me ’cause I’m like no, but really.  I can’t just jump in like that.  But at the end of the day, I guess I always knew that this was supposed to be fun and it was supposed to bring joy.  And if there was anything that I felt like I couldn’t do, I knew that I had the support to change that.  So I knew that with Corbin that I was safe with my partner.  I knew that with Christian, he wanted to make sure that we looked good.  And Brian is just like all-around so incredible that there wasn’t really any pressure.  There wasn’t any extra tension.  So you know, I think, yeah, obviously the most challenging part was going from not dancing or doing anything and being in a pandemic to going full throttle.  But even that is a blessing and it’s a gift.  And so I don’t even like to look at that as really any more than just the challenge that comes with being privileged to be able to do something that you love for a living.

QUESTION:  Awesome.  Thank you guys so much.

CORBIN BLEU:  Thank you.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah, thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thanks, Suzanne.  We’re going now to our final two questions.  Cynthia?

QUESTION:  Hello, can you hear me?

CORBIN BLEU:  Yes, we can.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Hi.  I’m Cynthia Horner from “Right On! Magazine” and “Word Up! Magazine”.  And Corbin, you and Monique used to appear in our magazines all the time.

CORBIN BLEU:  Yes!  Absolutely!

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I know!  I was like “Word Up!”!

QUESTION:  Yeah.  What is it like now being grown people that really got your start as teenagers and you continued on with your craft?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  One of us was a teenager.  The other one wasn’t.

CORBIN BLEU:  (Laughs.)

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  I’ll let you guess which one.

CORBIN BLEU:  Homegirl, you still look fly as hell.


CORBIN BLEU:  Honestly, just like life, there are aspects that just get better and better and then there are other parts that you go, oof, that hurts a lot more.


CORBIN BLEU:  You know, I think that there truly was an appreciation on this film.  When we were working back then, at least I can speak for myself to say that I was just a teenager.  And as much as I really was a hard worker and I was always focused on what I was doing and I appreciated everything that was going on, it still was just about enjoying that ride.  And it all happened so quickly that there are times where you have to — you forget to remind yourself, let me really take in this moment.  And I feel like I was able to do that a lot more working on this project.


CORBIN BLEU:  Just as an adult, in general, those times where it really is special.  One thing that I would love to talk about that I was able — a moment that I was able to look around and go, wow, this is really beautiful, was the representation in this film.


CORBIN BLEU:  And its diversity.  I mean, what’s so beautiful is to see these lead actors, Black actors, and that has nothing to do with the driving force of the storyline.  The storyline is a romance story.  It has nothing to do with the fact that we’re Black.  And yet, you get to see all of this diversity and all of this representation in there.  And I feel like that to me is something that as a kid, I don’t necessarily — I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint as much.  Now, I see it and I go this is something that I wish I was able to see a lot more of on screen when I was a kid and watching all these holiday movies.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah, that’s literally exactly what I was feeling, Corbin, was that that is the biggest shift that has happened since that time.  We were just in a different era and now to be these characters that are not just supporting someone else’s story but to be the story and yeah, that is definitely different and exciting.

QUESTION:  Well, thank you so much.  And merry Christmas in advance.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Thank you.  You, too.

CORBIN BLEU:  Merry Christmas in advance to you, too.  And happy Thanksgiving.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Thank you, Cynthia.  We’re gonna wrap with Samantha.  Samantha?

QUESTION:  Hi.  Thank you both so much for touching on the diversity piece because that’s really what I wanted to ask about.  I was reading about Monique you know just a part of how Taylor’s — the headband became — like, a piece was not really having people that could do Black hair.  And I’m just curious what your experiences have been through the start of your career to now being in the industry where it’s really embracing and prioritizing diversity?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah.  It’s definitely shifted so much.  The fact that we can even have this conversation and be open about it is I think definitely progress.  And I think one thing that Corbin and I both do is we are very collaborative in the process.  So we don’t take a backseat to what we’re doing.  We really want to be involved every step of the way.  And so it’s been really wonderful to watch the industry catch up and also personally to be able to make stronger and different choices about how I want to be presented and so forth.  So I feel like there’s a lot more room.  And not just diversity amongst — like racial diversity, but also diversity within a race.  I think oftentimes, I have been cast in roles that someone could perceive as a token role.  Like, oh, here we’re fulfilling the diversity quota because we’re both very safe people.  And that’s not to…it just is what it is.


MONIQUE COLEMAN:  And so oftentimes, we’re put in this position and it’s like there’s so much diversity within being Black.  It’s not just, okay, we’ve got someone that’s it.  And that is something that is so special and beautiful about “A Christmas Dance Reunion” is that you just have this family.  You’ve got these people and they just are different shades of Black and it’s not just one note or one tone.  And that is really very exciting to see what the possibilities are now that these other universes are opening up where we can see ourselves from here.

CORBIN BLEU:  One hundred percent with everything Mo just said.  And it’s such an important, important thing for what she’s talking about, as far as diversity within the diversity.


CORBIN BLEU:  And this movie by the way, there’s representation with LGBTQIA community.  There’s–


CORBIN BLEU:  In age, in differently abled.


CORBIN BLEU:  And our writer, one of our co-writing team, you know, Brian Herzlinger but majority of the heavy lifting on the writing was Megan Henry Herzlinger.  We have a female writer.  Yeah, right?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  It’s so good.

CORBIN BLEU:  So really, I mean, all that is there but again, what’s so amazing and so important to me about this film is that all of that goes unsaid.


CORBIN BLEU:  To me, for what I grew up watching, the stuff that I — you know, I grew up watching all of the MGM classic musicals and never really getting a chance to see representation of myself in that character.  And most of the time growing up, if I was watching someone of color, then it was the token.  And usually the phrases that were coming out of that person’s mouth or the kind of demeanor of a certain — it always was a very specific category.  Or they were there because the driving force of their storyline was because they’re Black.  It has to do with their struggle.  It has to do with the fact that they’re not represented.  And we have romance stories, too.


CORBIN BLEU:  We have positivity without the struggle, as well.


CORBIN BLEU:  That’s always there.  That struggle is always there because we aren’t represented in that way, but we will only see that struggle and only see that representation if those are the only stories that we continue to tell.  So that’s why this really to me was such a beautiful, beautiful experience and really important.  And I want to see more of it and Mo and I need to do more of that together.


MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Well, thank you both so much for participating today.  We all love that you’re here together and reunited.  So be sure everyone to tune in to “A Christmas Dance Reunion” on Friday, December 3rd, at 8/7 Central only on Lifetime.


Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on LifetimeA Christmas Dance Reunion
Friday, December 3 at 8pm / 7c

Successful attorney Lucy Mortimer (Monique Coleman), along with her mother Virginia (Kim Roberts) returns to the Winterleigh Resort to help celebrate the hotel’s final Christmas season. Once there, Lucy is reunited with the owner’s nephew and her childhood Christmas Dance partner, Barrett Brewster (Corbin Bleu). Though the resort has fallen on hard times and has stopped most holiday events, Lucy leads the charge in recreating the beloved Christmas traditions, including the popular Christmas Dance, to bring together new families and new hope to the resort. Now, Lucy must decide if she’s willing to take a risk on love and partner up once more with Barrett for what could be the last Christmas Dance.

A Christmas Dance Reunion is produced by Off Camera Entertainment and Brain Power Studio with Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston and Beth Stevenson as Executive Producers. Megan Henry Herzlinger and Brian Herzlinger serve as writers. Brian Herzlinger also directs.

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Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on Lifetime

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Interview with Jann Arden

TV Interview!

Jann Arden, star of "Jann" on HULU

Interview with Jann Arden of “Jann” on Lifetime by Suzanne 2/2/21

This was fun! I haven’t done many Zoom interviews before. Jann is very professional and yet very charming and endearing.

Here is the video of our call!

Suzanne: Hi, how are you?

Jann: Good. How are you doing? Oh, that’s a nice background.

Suzanne: Thank you. I didn’t know if I had it on or not –

Jann: We’re in Hawaii!

Suzanne: I wish.

Jann: Yeah, you and me both.

Suzanne: Are you up in Canada?

Jann: I am. I’m in southern Alberta, just outside of Calgary.

Suzanne: So, it’s a bit cold and snowy up there?

Jann: Oh, my God. It’s minus twelve today.

Suzanne: Wow. Yeah, I can’t complain then. I’m sick of the cold, but we only get in the thirties and forties.

Jann: Where are you?

Suzanne: Southern Arkansas, near Louisiana.

Jann: Oh, nice. Oh, I love that part of the world. It’s pretty.

Suzanne: Not as pretty as the palm trees, but it’s pretty.

Jann: Aww, come on. We’ll get there. We’ll get there.

Suzanne: I actually lived in Hawaii for three years.

Jann: Okay, now you’re just bragging.

Suzanne: So, what gave you the idea to make a TV series based on your life?

Jann: Well, it’s very loosely based on my life. Yes, I’m a singer-songwriter, and the person in this show is a singer-songwriter, but that’s where the similarities completely end. It’s completely fictitious. My mother passed away years ago, and I actually have a mother in this show. I don’t have any sisters, but I have a sister in the show. I have a lot more dates; TV Jann has a lot more dates than I do. I’m just living alone here in the trees with my dog, but the TV version of me is out there dating and having fun, so that’s very exciting. I just got presented with an opportunity four or five years ago and worked with a friend of mine, Leah Gauthier, and we just sat at my kitchen table. We’re like, “Okay, what can we do here?” And we just spent a weekend laughing our butts off and kind of coming up with this concept of a woman trying to find relevance and sorting out of relationships and trying to see if she can get her career going and has a mother that has dementia, and we’ve just been really, really lucky to get the show made.

Suzanne: What did you have to do to learn how to write for TV, because you are a songwriter?

Jann: I can honestly say, I don’t do the actual writing for the show. I’m involved in all the storyboards. So, we get together here in my home, and I’m with the writers. We have five writers on the show, and everybody sleeps here. I stick them in bedrooms; I stick them on floor mattresses, and we do all the storyboards. So, I’m very happy to say that I’ve been involved in all of that, then those guys go away, and they do something called scripts. I don’t know how the hell they do it. So, thank God I’m not.

Suzanne: Were you familiar with the other actors before they auditioned for your show?

Jann: There are a few of them that I was familiar with. Zoie Palmer, who plays my sister, I’ve long admired her.

Suzanne: She’s great.

Jann: She was one of the stars of of Lost Girl; she was in Dark Matter. I happened to see her when I was working out one day in a movie called Sex After Kids. It was an indie film, and she was hilarious. I just got it in my mind. I’m like, “I want Zoie Palmer to play my sister.” I think she’s the perfect foil for me. She’s straight laced, and she’s uptight, and she just wants to do stuff right, and I just drive her crazy. And it’s really fun working with Zoie. Her husband, Dave, is a gentleman named Patrick Gilmore. I’ve known him for years. He’s in a show called Travelers. He’s done a lot of stuff. You might recognize him from other things.

Yeah, the name is familiar.

Jann: Elena Juatco, who plays Cale, she was new to me. I didn’t know her until I saw the audition tape and was able to meet her in person, but the whole cast, I think everyone really steps into their characters, and they’re all so funny in their own right.

Suzanne: I see that two seasons aired in Canada. Will there be a season three, or do you know yet?

Jann: We’re just doing season three right now. So, I had my first COVID test yesterday, and I do all my wardrobe fitting on Wednesday. So, yeah, we’re full steam ahead. It’s all written. We’re ready to go, and it’s pretty damn great to have another opportunity to do this.

Suzanne: If it were up to you, how many seasons do you think you would like it to go?

Jann: I’d like to do eight

Suzanne: That’s a good number.

Jann: Why not? Letterkenny’s on its tenth season.

Suzanne: Oh, wow. How did it come about, that Hulu picked it up?

Jann: You know, I don’t know a lot about the business side of that. My producers, Andrew Barnsley and Ben Murray, are the two fellows that own a production company called Project 10. Andrew was one of the producers on Schitt’s Creek. So, I think Andrew had a relationship with some of these people and has been working really this past twelve months with Hulu to figure out when would be a good time to release it, and if it would be a good fit, but we’re very thrilled to be with Hulu. They’ve been amazing partners and have just been nothing but supportive and kind for us.

Suzanne: Yeah, I really love how all these services, and even now, some of the broadcast networks, keep bringing in Canadian and other shows outside the US. I love that. It’s great to see others.

Jann: I think it’s good for all of us. I mean, we love seeing all your shows, too.

Suzanne: I think, internationally, people see more American shows than we see international shows up until recently.

Jann: I think you’re right.

Suzanne: Of all your songs, do you have a favorite?

Jann: I do, and it’s a song called “Good Mother.” I wrote it about my mom years and years ago, but it was the single in the States. This would have been in the ‘90s, so it was a long time ago, but I get so many letters and so many direct messages about that song. It’s one of my long personal favorites. I mean, I love “Insensitive” as well, but a song called “Good Mother” is right up there.

Suzanne: I’ll have to listen to that. When I was listening to some of your songs on YouTube – I’m a few years older than you, and so I stopped listening to music mostly in the ‘80s more or less.

Jann: I get it.

Suzanne: But now I know. Which singers or groups inspired you most musically?

Jann: Oh my gosh, I had so many favorites growing up. I loved, loved, loved Shirley Bassey. You might not know who she is.

Suzanne: Oh, yeah.

Jann: “Diamonds Are Forever (sung)” – loved her. I love Tears for Fears. I love Janice Ian and Olivia Newton-John and Carly Simon and Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, James Taylor. I was really a singer-songwriter kid growing up. Then I started to like Kiss, because my older brother loved Kiss. So, I decided I liked Kiss, and then I started listening to his Nazareth record. And Boston – “More Than a Feeling (sung).” Bread, with David Gates; I listened to a lot of Bread. I mean, so much music. I don’t know if you remember the Columbia Record Club?

Suzanne: Oh, yeah.

Jann: Way back when – “For one cent, you can buy ten LP records,” and when you’re a kid, you’re begging your parents. “Please, it’s only one cent for ten records.” Well, then they ding you. Every month they send, you know, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, for God’s sakes, but that costs you $27.

Suzanne: Yeah, I was in that in high school, the Columbia Record Club.

Jann: Yeah, and it’s impossible to get out of! Anyway, I just listened to so much music, but yeah, there was a just a whack of girl singer/songwriters that I just adored so much. Natalie Cole, I just love Natalie Cole. And then of course, late ‘80s it started changing to, you know, Nirvana and Sinead O’Connor. I mean, I even loved Enya.

Suzanne: I like Enya. So, last question. Are you working on more songs for a future album?

Jann: I am. I’m right in the middle of just finishing up a record now. I actually just need to mix it. That’ll be my fifteenth record with Universal Records.

Suzanne: Wow.

Jann: I know, it’s nutty!

Interview Transcribed by Jamie of

Our Review of “Jann”


In Jann, Jann Arden plays a fictionalized, self-deprecating version of herself: a singer songwriter of a “certain age” in severe denial of the harsh reality that her former music career is slowly (okay, rapidly) fading away. But it’s not just Jann’s career that’s on life support – she’s newly single (don’t remind her), her sister may disown her, and her mother may be showing early signs of memory loss. Jann‘s personal life is in shambles and she’s convinced that the cure-all is to enlist a new manager to help rebrand her image. Filled with plenty of LOL moments, she embarks on a quest to return to greatness and go viral, but instead gets tangled in the pressures of her ‘real’ life. Jann is at the crossroads between who she was and who she wants to be. Can Jann stage a comeback, reclaim fame…and be there for the people who love her?

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