Wednesday, April 9, 2014

INTERVIEW: Kieran Turner, Robert Bogue and John Halbach Preview WALLFLOWERS Season 2

Created, written and directed by Kieran Turner (Jobriath A.D.), the web series WALLFLOWERS centers around a group of thirtysomethings dealing with life in New York City, who come together in a group for singles. At its heart, WALLFLOWERS highlights the bonds of friendship and the magic of love. Romance plays a major part in the show's second season, airing on STAGE17, and we are introduced to two potential new couples in the premiere--sexy and sweet Alex (John Halbach, EASTSIDERS) & cynical Bryce (Patch Darragh) and cocky Fred (Robert Bogue, GUIDING LIGHT) & feisty Jane (Jolly Abraham).

Love is universal, something we are all looking for. Daytime soap opera fans who are missing their daily dose of “love in the afternoon,” can check out WALLFLOWERS and find it, along with deep friendship, love, humor and romance.

We Love Soaps recently had the chance to speak to Kieran Turner, John Halbach, and Robert Bogue about the second season of WALLFLOWERS and more. Read our exclusive interview.

WE LOVE SOAPS:  Kieran, how did you come up with WALLFLOWERS?
KIERAN TURNER:  It was something that I had written as a pilot several years ago, but it was a little different. It wasn't necessarily focusing on that specific age group of older thirtysomethings I wrote it as a pilot just to see if I could write television and I kind of shoved it in a drawer and didn't do anything with it. I had made a film, a documentary called Jobriath A.D., about the first openly gay rock start star, and this was in 2012, and had been on the festival circuit with it. The programmers there had invited a web series called THE OUTS to participate. I wasn't very well versed in web series. But I was very impressed with what the folks at THE OUTS had been able to do. It had good writing, good production values, it looked really professional, and I realized people were actually doing it to this level and it was amazing.

I did a little bit more investigating, and I decided I wanted to do something like this. So I pulled that old script out, and having had the benefit of 10 years plus of being single for awhile, and realizing the way that I dated when I was younger, it was so different now.  People don’t know how to make that personal connection anymore. Everything is on the internet. And it was kind of baffling to me to throw myself back out there again, and being made to feel like there was something wrong with me because I was still single at this particular age. You know, everyone else was pairing up, both straight and gay, and you kind of feel like you’re damaged goods because you’re still single. So I adapted it with that, wrote the first season, and it came pretty quickly and easily.

WE LOVE SOAPS:  I noticed a difference between Season 1 and Season 2, there is a really healthy dose of romance now, just from watching the first episode. Was it a conscious decision to change things up?
KIERAN TURNER:  It was. I wanted to take Season 2 and deepen it. It’s funny the show was absolutely a comedy, and I think in Season 2 its very much a dramedy, leaning more towards drama. And my feeling is that trying to find love is funny but being in a relationship, finding love, not so funny. It can be very dark and very scary, and especially if it’s something that doesn't come naturally to you, and it certainly doesn't come naturally to these characters. I wanted to raise the stakes, I wanted to take these characters out of their comfort zone. I love that we are taking it more dramatic and I hope to develop it more that way

WE LOVE SOAPS:  Fans of daytime drama, with four left on the air now, are missing out on the romance factor that has fallen by the wayside. For daytime fans who are looking for romance and relationships, is WALLFLOWERS for them?
KIERAN TURNER:  Absolutely. I love daytime fans, I think they are the most loyal loyal viewers ever. And we would love to have them come over and watch WALLFLOWERS and find what they may be missing by some of their shows. And to that end, we have a wonderful actor, who has joined the cast, Rob Bogue from GUIDING LIGHT.

Robert Bogue
WE LOVE SOAPS:  Very excited to see Rob join the cast, who soap fans definitely know from GUIDING LIGHT as Mallet. Rob, what were your final days like on GUIDING LIGHT as the show was approaching cancellation?
ROBERT BOGUE:  Ironically enough, I just thought a lot about it this week. Because on April 1, 5 years ago, they stepped on to the sound stage and said, the producer needs to see everybody in the rehearsal hall in 10 minutes. That will be our union break, please go to the rehearsal hall. That was out of the ordinary so we knew it was something big. And then we walked in, the cast assembled, the cast and crew. Some of which who had been there since the 1960s. This was the only world they knew. And then the executive producer broke down into tears and said that’s it, we’re done. I got them to at least extend us until August but that’s it. And then we all, the cast and crew, burst out laughing because it was April Fools' Day.  God, you really got us. And then she didn't stop crying and we realized, wow, this is it. It was like someone cracked a hole in the pilot dome, I mean it was like, wow, they are pulling the plug on a show that has been on the air for 72 years.

So it was horrible, and we all had that pain the last four months to finish shooting, but it made the last four months really specific and really poignant.  We all came to work because we knew it was ending and we were even more grateful for the opportunity to act every day.   It was very bittersweet at the end but it was almost like it brought us all closer, because we knew the ship was docking soon. I think it’s a real shame that soaps aren't around like they were. But when you are doing quality like WALLFLOWERS that’s exactly the point. Here is the chance for us to do good writing, do it consistently, and this is the new breeding ground for actors.

WE LOVE SOAPS: That is what indie series are all about. What can you tell me about your character of Fred on WALLFLOWERS?
ROBERT BOGUE:  Oh Fred, no one understands Fred. He’s a great guy, a good time, he just doesn't understand why women have a hard time with him. He’s a good lover, he’s romantic, he is fun in the sack. So he needs a little mothering now and again. That’s not a bad thing. Fred is sort of a horny boy stuck in a man’s body, but is kind of confused why he isn't the catch of the century.
KIERAN TURNER:  You’re going to be surprised to see how Fred matures, even in this season. And Rob does a great job with that.  He’s just not some sort of swinging dick out there. Rob brings a lot to this character.

WE LOVE SOAPS:  In your writing process, as you are writing your straight and gay couples, are you writing the couples any differently? 
KIERAN TURNER:  Absolutely not. The big thing for me as an openly gay artist, as an openly gay writer and director who puts that material out in the world, I want to create work that isn't stereotypical, that doesn't make a differentiation. I want to create characters first and then have them be gay, straight, bisexual. And I really don’t think there is a big difference. Love is Love. Romance is Romance. And Relationships are Relationships. I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to be able to put out what I want to see. And I think with WALLFLOWERS you are not going to find stereotypes.

You certainly don’t find them in EASTSIDERS as well. That was one of the things that I loved about EASTSIDERS when I saw it. These are couples, gay and straight, and there was no difference. They struggled with the same things, it’s very universal. And so I think soap fans, be they gay or straight, are going to warm to all of the couples on WALLFLOWERS because they are going to see themselves in those struggles no matter who it is.

WE LOVE SOAPS:  John, can you tell me a little about your character of Alex?
JOHN HALBACH:  Oh sweet Alex, he’s a real nice guy [laughing], probably a little too nice in this situation.  I feel like it’s a little scary putting himself out there with Bryce, because he has so many walls up. And Alex keeps throwing his open heart out, his open arms, looking for love, but I admire that too. It’s brave. It’s a very admirable way to live your life. To see the best in people.

John Halbach
WE LOVE SOAPS:  In EASTSIDERS, we have seen you with your shirt off. And now in WALLFLOWERS I have seen pictures of your shirt being off. Are you now the go-to sex symbol for Indie Series?
JOHN HALBACH:  [Laughing] I will gladly take on that title from anyone who wants to give it to me.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Also, congratulations on EASTSIDERS’ Indie Series Award for Best Ensemble - Drama. Were you surprised that the cast won?
JOHN HALBACH:   Thank you so much. It was such a fun night. I was definitely surprised, I was hoping for it. I am so proud of our cast and I love our cast, and I had my fingers crossed. But I was surprised.

WE LOVE SOAPS: What was it like working with the cast of EASTSIDERS?
JOHN HALBACH:  So great, I am so happy with every person we ended up with. It’s a mix of old, old friends and friends of friends, and people we have never met before in our lives that we got from random auditions. And that can always end up real badly.  So I’m real happy that it ended well. They are all talented, really cool people. They have been fun to spend the last year and a half with

WE LOVE SOAPS:  AS THE WORLD TURNS fans are going to want to know what was it like it working with Van Hansis?
JOHN HALBACH:  Van Hansis is a prince among men, an angel on earth. He is one of the people we had never met before, and it’s scary bringing someone in a project like this that you don’t know. And he so wildly exceeded our expectations as an actor and as a person. He could not be a better, more talented nice guy. Can’t say enough nice things.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Anything else you would like to share about EASTSIDERS?
JOHN HALBACH:  Keep a lookout for EASTSIDERS, we have a lot of big news coming out in the next few weeks and our web comic has started rolling out as a bridge between our two seasons, so keep posted, we have big things coming.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Finally, for someone who hasn't checked out WALLFLOWERS, why do you think it could be the show for them?
KIERAN TURNER:  It’s an honest show. I have always thought this about this particular show, with these characters, they may want to hang out with you. That’s how similar they are to their audience.  It’s like they are going through the same thing their viewers are. They are so honest. I don’t care what genre it is, I just want it to feel genuine, and I think that with the work that is being done in it is so genuine that I want to know these people, and I think the audience will too.

I really think that this particular medium is such a great place for soap fans to hopefully get what they have been missing, with all of the soaps being so unceremoniously dumped in the past few years. And not really having an outlet for this passion of theirs.  I am hoping that they will embrace WALLFLOWERS and know that we absolutely have them in mind when we are working on this. I'm really really hoping that we can find that audience and give them what they have been missing.

Thank you to Kieran Turner, Robert Bogue and John Halbach and make sure to check WALLFLOWERS second season premiere below.

For more on WALLFLOWERS and to catch up on previous episodes, visit

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