WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I have been doing a lot of interviews with cast members of THE BAY in recent months. The one thing they all have in common is their praise for you. As you and I know, that is not always the case. What was your inspiration for THE BAY and bringing together this wonderful group of actors?
Gregori J. Martin: When I was about five-years-old my mother would keep me at home to watch ALL MY CHILDREN with her. My babysitter was a big SANTA BARBARA fan. So as I kid I always watched soaps. I loved ONE LIFE TO LIVE in the mid to late 80s and early 90s. I loved ANOTHER WORLD and GENERAL HOSPITAL.
I was kind of obsessed with Robin Wright-Penn while she was playing Kelly on SANTA BARBARA. I created my own blond-haired blue-eyed character named Sarah Garrett. As the years went on I started to develop her family. Her mother, her father, her siblings, her children, her love affairs. It just escalated into THE BAY.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Could you ever have imagined having Mary Beth Evans personify this creation?
Gregori J. Martin: I knew who Mary Beth Evans was from seeing her as Kayla on DAYS and Katherine on GENERAL HOSPITAL. But I could never have imagined she was would be playing Sarah. I put out a casting call for a blond-haired blue-eyed woman in her 40s. We thought about Kristina Wagner, we thought about Judi Evans. Sandi [Ferguson] came to me and said, “What do you think about Mary Beth Evans?” I thought, “Wow, that’s perfect!” I put out contacts to find out if anyone knew how to find her. Someone told me to reach her through Michael Bruno, who I knew because I had directed several films with soap stars, and he represents a lot of soap actors. He set up the meeting, and from that moment I knew she was Sarah. The character is different from how I created her 25 years ago. She now has two sons and a daughter, as does Mary Beth, so it was serendipity.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: There has to be an easier way to make a living than this. Your work on THE BAY shows a true love and devotion to keeping soaps alive and vital.
Gregori J. Martin: I do love them. I don’t know what soaps are like today, I haven’t watched soaps in many years. But I did grow up watching classic moments between Max and Gabrielle [on OLTL] and Cruz and Eden [on SB], Kelly and Joe Perkins [SB], Vicki and Jake [on AW]. I loved GENERAL HOSPITAL in the 90s under Wendy Riche. From what I hear soaps are very different now than from what I remember growing up. That classic soap storytelling of supercouples and family dynamics intrigued me. That’s what I’d like to bring to the audience today.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: It was so bittersweet that THE BAY premiered the same week AS THE WORLD TURNS went off the air. Is it your intention to use the internet to keep the genre alive?
Gregori J. Martin: Yes. One of the things I keep getting asked is, “Are you looking for a TV deal?” We already have a TV deal in place that will put us in 19 different countries over seas on Sky TV. It will be in Italy, Spain, Poland, Germany. And I’m so grateful I have that. But I don’t want to move the show away from the web because the web is the television of the future. It’s good when you don’t have a studio telling what to do. You can have fun, cast who you want, take the story where you want to take it. And it is easier for me to give the fans what they want. I have closer communication with them than the average studio does.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Speaking of giving the fans what they want, you have an ensemble cast with some of the most beloved actors of the past 30 years. Mary Beth Evans, Matt Ashford, Lane Davies, Nicolas Coster, Sandra Ferguson, Lilly Melgar, Real Andrews, Charles Shaughnessy, and now you have added Jacklyn Zeman, Ilene Kristen, Lesli Kay. What has been the biggest challenge?
Gregori J. Martin: Finance. Money. Getting people on board to sponsor the show and advertise on the show. We have an enormous fan following. I think people are still a little afraid to spend money because of our most recent economic crisis. But this is the perfect place for someone with a business to advertise. We have such a large following. Literally in five months we have fans flying out from all over the U.S. to come to our events. They’re already writing in, taking surveys. So if you want to target the world, this is a good way to do it. If you have a product or a company, this is a good show to sponsor.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I was impressed with the way you used Kickstarter to finance part of it as well. That spoke to how devoted the viewers are.
Gregori J. Martin: And we did. The fans came through with donations, and we were able to raise $15,000. And I think that’s just proof alone that people are watching and they are interested.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: If someone is reading this and wanting to be part of the future of soaps, what can they do?
Gregori J. Martin: They can go to the website and become a sponsor. Or just send an email, let us know what company you have, we can set up a meeting.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I would go as far to say that if anyone reading this was ever touched by Mary Beth’s portrayal of Kayla on DAYS, or was helped by Bobbie’s hardships on GENERAL HOSPITAL, or laughed at Mason’s drunken rants on SANTA BARBARA, and want to see these phenomenal talents continue to work and use their crafts, they need to support it. We can’t just sit passively by in 2010 and hope to see soap stars working. We need to actively support the work we want to see.
Gregori J. Martin: I agree. Mary Beth’s work as Kayla, as Katherine, as Sierra, was all fun. Sarah is bringing out something different. Wendy Riche, who I admire immensely, and is one of the greatest producers in daytime history, told me, “This is Mary Beth at her best.” I hope I give you what you want. This is all about the fans.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you enjoy the talent and drama on THE BAY and want to ensure its future, please consider becoming a sponsor.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist now accepting new clients in New York City. He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." For more information about scheduling an appointment, please email him at Shouldless@gmail.com