As we approach the end of 2012, it's time to reveal our annual list of fascinating people from the world of soaps. Below, in no particular order, are the Most Fascinating People of 2012.
Larry Hagman, who passed away in November, helped bring the new DALLAS on TNT back to life. Returning to one of the most iconic roles in television history, J.R. Ewing, Hagman didn't miss a beat - despite coping with health setbacks. J.R. once again had more watercooler moments than we could count, including that epic slap of John Ross.
Frank Valentini & Ron Carlivati
ONE LIFE TO LIVE executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati moved to GENERAL HOSPITAL, fulfilling the same roles on-set and bringing along some OLTL actors and crew. They took a daytime soap that many expected to be gone in September and revitalized it - notably by blending characters from Llanview and Port Charles and by bringing back a number of departed GH favorites.
They also improved the pacing of the show and did something no one thought could be done with a daytime soap anymore: they made GH 'Must See TV' daily. By plugging many of the leaks that ruin story outcomes, Valentini made fans want to tune in live to see what was going to happen. Carlivati's stories kept us glued to the tube (and/or our computers), blending the old and the new GENERAL HOSPITAL. Longtime viewers certainly appreciated the regular nods to the show's incredible history.
Connie Britton showed a new side to herself in the lead role of Rayna James in ABC's NASHVILLE. Rayna dealt with her husband's political campaign, a fair-weather-friend of a record label, an overbearing and possibly evil father, and an extremely complicated relationship with her band leader, Deacon. Britton played every nuance to perfection. The Golden Globes have honored her with a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series. Well-deserved.
In June, Heather Tom won her fourth Daytime Emmy. In October, she gave birth to her first child, Zane Alexander Achor. “This was the hardest and best thing that I have ever done in my life,” Tom said.
In the fall, we watched her character in THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, Katie Logan Spencer, deal with postpartum depression, a performance that may have been the best of her career. Meanwhile, in her spare time (how does she have any?) she shot a new HGTV show, RENOVATION UNSCRIPTED, with her husband, James Achor. We wonder, what will she bring us in 2013?
When he was in college, Greg Rikaart spent a semester as an intern for a congressman. In 2012, he let that politician within shine, speaking his mind about marriage equality, Superstorm Sandy and more. He wrote a piece for the Huffington Post in August about Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, including this statement: "Whether grown up bullies like Dan Cathy and Melissa Reeves realize it or not, they are directly or indirectly telling these vulnerable kids that there is something wrong with them, or they are somehow less than. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm certain of it."
Interestingly, while plumping for serious (and occasionally upsetting) causes, Rikaart preserved his sense of humor and maintained perspective. In a red carpet interview at the 8th Annual GLSEN Respect Awards, he joked, "Changing the world, one episode of THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS at a time."
Roger Howarth has been playing the character of Todd Manning on and off for the past 20 years. So why was he so fascinating in 2012?
This year, the character moved from ONE LIFE TO LIVE to GENERAL HOSPITAL. Whether catalyzed by a new show or a new coast, Howarth definitely brought new life to Todd. He seamlessly blended the character into the Port Charles universe. His red-hot chemistry with former OLTL co-stars Kassie DePaiva and Florencia Lozano was almost matched by his work with the incredible Laura Wright and Kelly Sullivan. Todd Manning was one of the most entertaining characters on television in 2012.
Let's face it: Jeanne Cooper is one of the most fascinating people of every year. But this year, she gave us a little extra. The legendary actress released her memoir, "Not Young, Still Restless." Restless, indeed!
Cooper crisscrossed the country doing interviews, signing books and meeting with fans. At one point she talked so much she lost her voice. But fans (including us) could not get enough of Cooper as she spoke about overcoming alcoholism, defeating breast cancer, and romancing the actor who played her son on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. In November we named Katherine Chancellor and Jill Foster Abbott Fenmore as the No. 1 Dynamic Duo of all time. With Jess Walton's return to Y&R, the twosome have started making magic again.
Robin Mattson is always fantastic. But in her return to GENERAL HOSPITAL, as Heather Webber, she outdid herself. The gleam in Mattson's eye when Heather delivers one of her hilarious, unhinged zingers is priceless. In a year of excellent performances, Mattson stood out, and we expect a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2013.
Kelly Monaco did the best work of her career in 2012 as her GENERAL HOSPITAL character, Sam Morgan, dealt with a complicated pregnancy, faced the death of her baby, reunited with Jason and then immediately lost him when Steve Burton left the show.
Meanwhile, Monaco was dancing her way to the Top 3 on DANCING WITH THE STARS: ALL-STARS. Her chemistry and close relationship with DWTS partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, continued to make headlines, even after the on-screen dancing ended.
Eileen Davidson had been fired from THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS before, but this year, the news was more surprising. It was soon announced she would be returning to DAYS OF OUR LIVES as Kristen DiMera. Creatively, DAYS needed a shot in the arm, and the return of Davidson has helped. She has also helped to locate some wonderful performances from longtime fan favorites Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn.
If, somehow, Davidson's soap work isn't fascinating enough, note that she also likes to drive race cars, competing in the 36th Annual 2012 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race back in April.
Rumors have circulated for years that Susan Flannery wanted to retire from THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. In 2012, she did.
The soap celebrated 25 years on the air in March, but by late summer original star Ronn Moss had left. Flannery's exit was announced soon after, and B&B's rare, proper sendoff to a beloved actor served as a model for all soaps. Stephanie's goodbye this fall was both touching and heartbreaking, as we watched the character deteriorate. Flannery was brilliant - of course. May the Daytime Emmys take notice. In the meantime, Flannery has not entirely retired from the business. This summer, she directed THE GROVE, an upcoming web series from Crystal Chappell.
In 2012, we said goodbye to Eva Longoria's signature TV character, Gabrielle Solis, as DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES came to an end. But Longoria never left. She was still everywhere: commercials, films, television - even in politics (as co-chair of President Barack Obama's re-election team).
In September she gave a passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention, where she spoke about working her way through college: "I signed up for financial aid, Pell Grants, work study, anything I could. Just like our president and first lady, I took out loans to pay for school. Then I changed oil in a mechanic shop, flipped burgers at Wendy's, taught aerobics and worked on campus to pay them back."
She's had a fascinating journey. Among her many current projects is DEVIOUS MAIDS, the new Lifetime soap coming in 2013. Longoria serves as executive producer.
Ian Buchanan & Finola Hughes
Ian Buchanan debuted as Ian McCallister in DAYS OF OUR LIVES in February, but DAYS chose to let him go only months later. That decision may have been one of the best things to happen to daytime soaps in all of 2012, because it freed Buchanan to return to GENERAL HOSPITAL.
The Friday cliffhanger in which "Duke" removed his mask to reveal he was really was Faison was the best revelation in years. Buchanan, playing Faison, pretending to be Duke, showed just how infinitely talented the man is. Meanwhile, Finola Hughes returned to GENERAL HOSPITAL earlier in the year and has been better than ever. Too often, when a character has multiple suitors, we scratch our heads and wonder, "Why?". In the case of Anna Devane, her appeal is obvious. We see another Emmy nomination in Hughes' future.
The world in indie soaps featured many fascinating people as well. We Love Soaps will be honoring the best of 2012 at our 4th Annual Indie Soap Awards in February. Look for interviews and highlights from the indie space over the next two months. In the meantime, please let us know who you thought was fascinating this year!