Starry Afternoon

I arrived at the Marriott Marquis for this year’s ALL MY CHILDREN Fan Club luncheon with James Scott (Ethan). Neither of us could remember what floor we were supposed to go to, but luckily, when you’re with James Scott, passersby are all too happy to help point you in the right direction. Sydney Penny (Julia) joined us for our trip up to the sixth floor — and because they’d never shared scenes, this was actually the first time Penny and Scott exchanged names and handshakes.
The hour before the luncheon commences is designated time for the actors to have a meal and mingle with one another — and, of course, the press. I split off from Scott to get quotes from other stars, starting with Terri Ivens (Simone), with whom I’d been playing phone tag for a few weeks. She and I tend to be in sync in our pop culture fascinations, and today was no exception, as she immediately began singing the praises (pardon the pun!) of the CBS reality show ROCK STAR: INXS, which my Digest colleague Jennifer Lenhart had turned me on to. “I am hooked on Marty from ROCK STAR: INXS,” she declared. “Mara, I’m in love with him. I voted for him this last time for half an hour.” When I proudly informed her that Marty hails from Chicago, just like myself, she winked, “I think we need to go see [your] mama! I will stalk him!” Ivens was in great spirits because the very next day, she was scheduled to hop a flight to the south of France, having taken Scott’s advice about how lovely it is this time of year. Bon voyage!
I parted ways with Ivens when I spotted I WANNA BE A SOAP STAR 2 winner Alec Musser (Del), still on a high off the love he received the previous day when he was a surprise guest at Justin Bruening (Jamie) and Alexa Havins’s (Babe) fan event. I reported to him that at a recent Digest cover shoot, Michael E. Knight had expressed “deep concern” over how Musser’s looks might hold him back in his career. “Yes, we’re all a little worried about that,” Musser winked.
Musser wasn’t the only newbie on the scene; this marked the first time I got to meet Connie Fletcher (Erin) and Colin Egglesfield (who’ll debut as Josh on September 20). Both Jeff Branson (Jonathan) and Cameron Mathison (Ryan) had raved to me about Connie, so I quickly went over to introduce myself. We discussed the remarkable way Erin has with testy coffee shop patrons (remember the guy who went from tongue-lashing her over an incorrect order to doing a conga with her over the course of one episode?) and agreed that if our quick chat was any indication, we were bound to have a lovely time together when I took her to lunch on Digest‘s dime for a more formal interview. “I think your instincts are right on,” she grinned. “Unless, you know, you take me to McDonald’s!” As for Egglesfield, well, I won’t lie to you, dear readers: He’s easy on the eyes. And very charming. I’m looking forward to interviewing him, too! (At McDonald’s, of course.)
Next, I saw Ian Buchanan (Greg) and Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) arriving and went over to say hi. “Are you ready to rock the luncheon?” I asked Buchanan. “I don’t think that’s my job anymore,” he sighed. “I think there are a lot of rocking people here. I’ll think I’ll be rocked.” (I think he sold himself short — when he was introduced to the fans, they went absolutely nuts.) Budig came over and, seeing my tape recorder under Buchanan’s nose, gasped, “Don’t believe anything he says! He’s lying!”
My conversation with Budig about our respective wardrobes for the day was interrupted by a tap on my shoulder from Jacob Young (JR). He’d recently flown to Miami for a fashion photo shoot and I asked how it had gone. “I was pleased,” he said. “I’m pleased that you were pleased,” I replied. “I’m pleased that you’re pleased that I was pleased,” he continued. We could have gone on like that all day and probably would have, had I not had to steal some time with his real-life buddy, Aiden Turner
(Aidan), who discussed his storyline in between bites of strawberries, and his on-screen rivals, Havins and Bruening. I had talked to Havins the previous day about taping her bed scene with Scott Kinworthy (soon-to-be ex-Josh) and now I wanted to know how Bruening had handled his on-screen romp with Chrishelle Stause (Amanda). “I took that one for the team,” he sighed, slinging his arm around his wife.
I wish I could say I had scintillating conversations with Vincent Irizarry (David) and Walt Willey (Jack), but (don’t tell my boss!) they got off question-free with the time-honored trick of hugging the reporter and telling her how much they liked her outfit. (Drat! Fell for it again!) I did have some hard-hitting questions for Penny about stuff that’s coming up for Julia, and while I was chatting with her, Susan Lucci (Erica) arrived and made a beeline for Young. Why? She’d recently visited her mother and wanted Jacob to know how much her mom loved him. (Isn’t that sweet?)
I excused myself to say hello to Charles Parnell, who just assumed the role of Derek from William Christian. And I had the honor of introducing him to Bobbie Eakes (Krystal). “You’ll probably have to haul her down to the station at some point,” I warned him. Eakes laughed and said, “Hopefully not for a few more months because I just got sprung!”Then it was time for the cast to start assembling for their big introduction to the fans gathered around tables in the ballroom outside the lounge — my cue to take my seat and enjoy the rest of the afternoon from the spectator’s point of view.

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