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‘The Young and the Restless,’ ‘General Hospital’ stars dish on why soap operas remain so popular in 2019

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‘The Young and the Restless,’ ‘General Hospital’ stars dish on why soap operas remain so popular in 2019

In the age of digital streaming and on-demand cable television, fewer shows are managing to stave off elimination despite the unparalleled access many viewers have to endless catalogs of available programming.

While the daytime drama has long been a benchmark and a tool for networks to fill daytime timeslots with appealing content, only a handful have sustained the rigors of the television rating monster. Two soap opera series that can flex their muscles better than others include “The Young and the Restless” and the longest-running soap in production, “General Hospital.”

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Still airing 46 years after it premiered on March 26, 1973, “The Young and the Restless” continues to be a driving force for CBS. A series regular since her debut on the drama, Melody Thomas Scott has portrayed Nikki since 1981. Thomas spoke to Fox News about the show’s ability to remain relevant for nearly a half-century.

Melody Thomas Scott attends The Hollywood Museum hosts lobby tribute "Remembering Lucy" to Lucille Ball at The Hollywood Museum on April 24 2019 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Melody Thomas Scott attends The Hollywood Museum hosts lobby tribute “Remembering Lucy” to Lucille Ball at The Hollywood Museum on April 24 2019 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

“Well, of course, we love when people grow up with it because that just creates another generation of fan and it keeps going and going and going. We’re very fortunate,” said Scott, 63, who recently celebrated her 40th anniversary as a cast member. “They said I’d never last, and yet here we are 40 years later,” she added.

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Scott felt it necessary to tout the show’s longevity, considering many of its counterparts have come and gone in the years since its inception, and viewers have been born and bred watching the countless romances and storylines surrounding its characters.

“There are only four soaps on the air anymore. There used to be 17. So we’re very proud to still be number one and still be on the air. And I think there are reasons that we are still on the air, if I do say so myself – nothing to do with me,” Scott quipped.

L-R Melody Thomas Scott, Eric Braeden and Christian Le Blanc at The Paley Center for Media on November 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Renard Garr/Getty Images)

L-R Melody Thomas Scott, Eric Braeden and Christian Le Blanc at The Paley Center for Media on November 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Renard Garr/Getty Images)

“But it’s always been the finest and looks the most luscious, I think, than any other show. And the audience, they’re not sophisticated enough to say ‘Oh, well their lighting is better and their camera work is [better].’ They don’t know any of that. They just know that when they watch it, they love to look at the screen and see what everything is itself. And we have great actors and great writing.”

The Daytime Emmy-nominated actress said she has many memories of being a young performer in Hollywood and spending hours on Hollywood Boulevard – even pointing up to a second-floor window atop the Hollywood Museum where she recalled sitting up in a window seat watching the Christmas parade with her drama coach year after year.

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“It was a different time. Los Angeles was a different city then. Yeah, there were hippies, but you know they were peaceful. There was nothing to be alarmed about,” Scott lamented. “It was just a more innocent time and nobody was really afraid of anything. And in Hollywood was still something exciting, something that everybody wanted to be a part of. And I felt so lucky.”

Still, Scott said her biggest career accomplishment is that she’s remained employed on “The Young and the Restless” for four decades.

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“I suppose I should say my 40th anniversary of ‘Y&R,’ shouldn’t I?” Scott joked when pressed about her achievements. “I mean, it just happened and it was an amazingly wonderful time, wonderful day. I’m still writing thank you notes from all the gifts I got. So, that was an extreme highlight. But I’ve had so many wonderful breaks in my career and I started when I was three years old. I could start telling you names, TV shows way before you were born. It would mean nothing to you.”

A Daytime Emmy Award-winning actress and “General Hospital” regular, Carolyn Hennesy echoed Scott’s sentiment about the allure and pull of the modern soap opera, adding that viewers simply “know our characters better than they know their own biological family.”

Carolyn Hennesy stars as Diane Miller in the soap opera series "General Hospital."

Carolyn Hennesy stars as Diane Miller in the soap opera series “General Hospital.”
(Suzette Troche-Stapp)

“We’re their family. We are sometimes more of their family. They can count on us to deliver more than they can count on their family,” explained Hennesy, 56, who has 38 seasons and 450 episodes as “Diane Miller” to her credit in addition to a glut of other film and television projects.

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“We are a trusted commodity. And that’s why they get hooked in and it plays on, you know — their desire for love and their desire for sex and their desire for revenge and for wealth. And all of the poignant moments too. But you can count on us every single day.”

Other daytime dramas still currently airing new episodes include, “Days of Our Lives” (54 seasons) and “The Bold and the Beautiful” (32 seasons), the former of which is NBC’s longest-running series in the network’s history and the second longest-running daytime soap still in production.

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Former Heaven’s Gate follower says he tried to pull girlfriend out of cult before shocking mass suicide in doc

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Former Heaven’s Gate follower says he tried to pull girlfriend out of cult before shocking mass suicide in doc

After 18 years, Frank Lyford trusted his gut and left the Heaven’s Gate cult — along with the woman he loved.

The former follower recalled his terrifying ordeal in the upcoming episode of “People Magazine Investigates: Cults,” which is airing on Investigation Discovery (ID) on June 17.

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The show, which recently kicked off its second season, explores how ordinary people “who, lured by promises of eternal life, get caught up in a terrifying web of abuse, deception and manipulation.” It features reporters who’ve covered these harrowing cases, as well as former members.

Marshall Herff Applewhite speaks on videotape. Applewhite, who founded the organization known as Heaven's Gate, lead 38 others in a mass suicide near San Diego. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Marshall Herff Applewhite speaks on videotape. Applewhite, who founded the organization known as Heaven’s Gate, lead 38 others in a mass suicide near San Diego. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Past subjects have included the Jonestown Massacre, Nation of Yahweh, Children of God and the Tony Alamo Ministries, among others.

“It was this deep, gut-felt misgiving of remaining in the group, remaining in the cult,” said the now-65-year-old in the documentary, as reported by People magazine Friday. “I couldn’t express it at the time and I didn’t know what my life would look like — what it’d be like adjusting to life outside of the group — I just knew I couldn’t remain in the cult anymore.”

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History.com reported the cult was led by Marshall Applewhite, a former music professor who was recruited by one of his nurses, Bonnie Lu Nettles, after surviving a near-death experience in 1972. The pair then persuaded a group of 20 people from Oregon to abandon their possessions and move to Colorado where they promised an extraterrestrial spacecraft would take them to the “Kingdom of Heaven.”

Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles are arrested by local police on August 28, 1974. Applewhite is charged with auto theft and Nettles is charged with the fraudulent use of credit cards. The two are believed to be the same who persuaded a number of people from Oregon to give up their worldly possessions and follow them in awaiting a UFO. They are leaders of a new sect called HIM (Human Individual Metamorphosis), better known as Heaven's Gate.

Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles are arrested by local police on August 28, 1974. Applewhite is charged with auto theft and Nettles is charged with the fraudulent use of credit cards. The two are believed to be the same who persuaded a number of people from Oregon to give up their worldly possessions and follow them in awaiting a UFO. They are leaders of a new sect called HIM (Human Individual Metamorphosis), better known as Heaven’s Gate.

The outlet shared that both Nettles and Applewhite insisted human bodies were “merely containers” that could be disregarded for a higher physical existence. Membership diminished after the spacecraft never arrived and Nettles died in 1985. The group resurfaced in the ‘90s as Applewhite started recruiting new members. After the 1995 discovery of the comet Hale-Bopp, members believed that an alien spacecraft was on its way to earth.

Lyford and Erika Ernst had been dating for two years when the couple came across Applewhite and Nettles during a 1975 Oregon camping trip. They soon sold their belongings. Lyford defected in 1993.

Lyford soon found himself in his parents’ Canadian home. And two days later, he received a call from “the love of my life.”

According to People, Ernst pleaded Lyford to return and he asked her to leave. The 40-year-old never did.

Erika Ernst — ID

Ernst, along with 37 other followers, died by suicide over three days in 1997. Their bodies were discovered inside a Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. compound after someone called police with an anonymous tip. The deceased ranged from ages 26 to 72. People magazine previously reported the members left video diaries explaining their reasons for the mass suicide.

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History.com reported that the mass suicide occurred around the same time Hale-Bopp reached its closest distance to Earth. Applewhite, who was among the dead, convinced the group they needed to “free their mortal souls in order to board a spaceship that was trailing behind the Hale-Bopp comet” heading towards a distant planet called “The Next Level.”

The bodies were found dressed in black suits with matching Nike sneakers and plastic bags over their heads. All had willfully ingested apple sauce laced with barbiturates, which was also washed down with vodka. Each had their IDs in their pockets.

A young Frank Lyford. — ID

A young Frank Lyford. — ID

“I knew it was the same group I was a part of, so it was a very emotional time for me, from the standpoint of feeling the loss of all my friends who I had been with for 18 years,” admitted Lyford.

FORMER NATION OF YAHWEH FOLLOWER RECALLS ESCAPING RUTHLESS CULT IN NEW DOC: ‘I RAN AS FAST AS I COULD’

Lyford said he wished he’d pushed Ernst harder to leave.

Frank Lyford and Erika Ernst. — ID

Frank Lyford and Erika Ernst. — ID

“If I were back on that call with her right now, I would be more emphatic about her leaving,” he explained. “We all have a connection to the divine within us, we all have that radio transmitter built in — we don’t need anyone to translate that for us. That was the big mistake that we all made, in my mind – it was believing we needed someone else to tell us what our best path should be.”

“People Magazine Investigates: Cults” airs June 17 at 9 p.m. on ID.

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CNN’s Anderson Cooper remembers mom Gloria Vanderbilt as visitor from ‘distant star’

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CNN's Anderson Cooper remembers mom Gloria Vanderbilt as visitor from 'distant star'

(Reuters) – CNN anchor Anderson Cooper remembered his mother, designer and society grand dame Gloria Vanderbilt, as a woman who endured a string of heartbreaks but still remained deeply in love with love.

Actress Gloria Vanderbilt speaks at a panel for the HBO documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid” during the Television Critics Association Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

“I always felt it was my job to protect her. She was the strongest person I ever met but she wasn’t tough,” Cooper said in a seven-minute video youtu.be/cfbRneB9wcA obituary on CNN.

“I always thought of her as visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who had come from a distant star that had burned out long ago.”

Vanderbilt, who died on Monday at age 95, had been famous her entire life, starting with a legal battle in which her aunt took custody from her mother when “Little Gloria” was a child. She would go on to endure four marriages, three divorces, the death of a husband and the suicide of a son.

Cooper’s obituary featured clips of young Gloria and told how she grew up in France, unaware that she was heir to the Vanderbilt railroad fortune. Portions also were taken from an HBO documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.”

When Cooper questioned why she first married a 32-year-old Hollywood figure, Vanderbilt told him, “Sweetheart, I was only 17.”

His mother “trusted too freely, too completely” but always pressed on, Cooper said, and always believed that the next true love was just around the corner.

“She was always in love – in love with men or with friends or books and art, in love with her children and her grandchildren and then her great-greatchildren,” Cooper said. “Love is what she believed in more than anything.”

Cooper said his mother learned earlier this month that she had advanced and spreading stomach cancer. Her response was to cite a 1950 hit song by Peggy Lee with the lyrics “show me the way to get out of this world because that’s where everything is.”

The CNN report included a video Cooper shot in a hospital after the diagnosis as he and his mother broke into laughing fits over a joke. Cooper said that was when he realized they had the same giggle. He said he still giggles every time he watches that video.

Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Susan Thomas

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Jennifer Aniston had one requirement for Adam Sandler kissing scenes in ‘Murder Mystery’

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Jennifer Aniston had one requirement for Adam Sandler kissing scenes in 'Murder Mystery'

Jennifer Aniston had one rule for her kissing scenes in Netflix’s “Murder Mystery” with co-star Adam Sandler.

“I did have him learn to oil the beard up a little bit,” the actress said in a joint interview this week. “Conditioned.”

Sandler said kissing his longtime friend on camera wasn’t all that awkward, except when his wife Jackie and children were on set and encouraging him a little too much.

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“The only awkward part is hearing my wife on the side going, ’Harder! Harder! Kiss her harder! Deeper!” he joked. “They (Jackie and the kids) watched the kissing. They love it. They love Aniston, and they want her to have good things and they say, ‘Give her something nice.’”

Adam Sandler, left, and Jennifer Aniston attend the "Murder Mystery" photo call at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Los Angeles.

Adam Sandler, left, and Jennifer Aniston attend the “Murder Mystery” photo call at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Los Angeles.
(AP)

“That was awkward,” Aniston agreed.

“Murder Mystery” follows a longtime married couple who get framed for murder while they’re unlikely guests on a billionaire’s yacht in Europe. The movie premiered on Netflix on Friday.

Fox News caught up with the stars last week and asked them who they would pin a murder on if given the chance.

Sandler, 52, was quick to answer: Rob Schneider.

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“It would be fun to hurt him. It would be fun to see him behind bars. And I would visit him every 10-15 years and say, ‘I’m sorry I did this to you,’” Sandler told us.

Rob Schneider arrives at the LA Premiere Of Netflix's "Murder Mystery" at Regency Village Theatre on June 10, 2019 in Westwood, California.

Rob Schneider arrives at the LA Premiere Of Netflix’s “Murder Mystery” at Regency Village Theatre on June 10, 2019 in Westwood, California.
(Getty)

“Oh yeah, you’d have to have some fun with Rob,” Aniston, 50, said.

When asked what Schneider ever did to deserve the blame in the hypothetical whodunit, Sandler simply said, “Nothing! That’s the beauty of this joke.”

Schneider wasted no time responding to Sandler’s admission, issuing a warning to his former “Saturday Night Live” co-star in a comment to Fox News on Friday.

ROB SCHNEIDER HITS BACK AT ADAM SANDLER, SAYS ‘IT WOULD BE FUN’ TO PIN HIM FOR MURDER: ‘I KNOW HIS SECRETS’

“I know all of Adam’s secrets for 30 years and that’s why he’d like nothing more than [to] lock me away for a crime he’d like to commit: taking away Kevin James’ Happy Meal!” Schneider teased.

Fox News’ Julius Young and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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