No.10: Bradford Anderson - General Hospital
Entertaining is definitely a word that describes Bradford Anderson. He's been entertaining General Hospital fans since his first day on our screens. Anderson's chemistry with Kirsten Storms' Maxie and Steve Burton's Jason is undeniable and the endearing way he plays the lovelorn and loyal Spinelli has made this character, who has no real attachment to Port Charles, a fan favorite. Here's to an equally entertaining 2009.
No. 9: Michael Graziadei - The Young and the Restless
Will he stay? Will he go? No one knows for sure, but we are certain of one thing, should Michael Graziadei vacate the role of Daniel Romalotti on The Young and the Restless anytime soon he will cause legions of viewers to go into mourning, especially the gang here at Daytime Confidential. Like Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Josh Duhamel before him Graziadei—"Graz" to close friends—is definitely destined for bigger things, but with his soap home fabulously revitalized, his character's breakout romance with Amber (Adrienne Frantz) scorching up our screens, as well as he hilarious, authentic bromance with Greg Rikaart's Kevin Fisher, we are hoping Graz decides to stick around.
No. 8: Van Hansis - As the World Turns
Luke Snyder has suffered many a plot-driven indignity since Van Hansis assumed the role from Jake Weary and the legacy character came out of the closet as a gay teen. In 2008 it seemed TPTB were hellbent on destroying the character with every click of a keypad. From Ameera, to the election farce, to Luke's creepy relationship with his closeted step grandfather Brian (Laurence Lau), Hansis has had the Herculean task of keeping Luke believable and sympathetic, and he did just that. Even as Luke self-destructed by drinking and verbally abusing his true love Noah (Jake Silbermann), Hansis kept the character's integrity intact, and continued to portray Luke as not just a platform piece or token gay character, but as a realistic, human being experiencing his coming of age.
No. 7: Michael Park - As the World Turns
Michael Park is half of one of As the World Turns' most popular couples, which can't be an easy task on the troubled Proctor and Gamble soap these days. Day in and day out, Park proved in 2008 why he's considered one of the best actors in daytime. Even as ultimate "good guy" Jack Snyder showed once again what a self-righteous, hypocritical jerk he can be whenever he dumped on ex-wife Carly (Maura West), the duo still smolders. Currently Park is managing to create his first potential romantic pairing to compete with the Carjackers phenomenon with Julie Pinson as Jack's new wife Janet, but every time Park looks into West's eyes we know the G-Man's heart still belongs to the tempestuous Ms. Tenney. Kudos to Park for keeping this all-too important throughline going in the midst of the most manic storytelling in daytime this past year.
No. 6: Peter Bergman - The Young and the Restless
What can you say about an actor who has the ability to manipulate your feelings about his alter ego at the drop of a tear? Love Jack or hate him, you cannot deny the talent of Peter Bergman. Victor vs. Jack is a The Young and the Restless staple that never gets old. Right now, Jack is up to his cufflinks as yet another of his hairbrained plots falls apart, and even after all the evil stunts he pulled in 2008 you can't help but root for him. That's a testament to the actor. Just when you're ready to throw your remote at the TV, Jack talks to his "father", or tells Sharon (Sharon Case) or Ashley (Eileen Davidson) how much they mean to him, then like his loved ones you grant him a reprieve. Which Jack is playing with your head? Scheming Jack? Menacing Jack? Heartfelt Jack? All of them thanks to Peter Bergman.
No. 5: Christian LeBlanc - The Young and the Restless
Christian Le Blanc (Michael Baldwin) is easily one of the best actors in daytime. Which is why his occasional decension into scenery chewing can be so frustrating. For the better part of 2008, however, Le Blanc left the scenery to others and instead devoured the meaty material he was given, i.e. discovering his hippie/con artist father Lowell "River" Baldwin (Michael Gross), and a little sister he never knew he had (and one we wish would go far, far away). Michael's childlike desire to know his father and thus figure out what made him tick as a person was a story anyone could identify with. Are we doomed to follow in the footsteps of our parents, or do we possess the ability to overcome nature by embracing nurture?
Le Blanc skillfully took us on Michael's journey as one of Y&R's best villains-turned-antiheroes struggled to figure out if he would ever surmount the curse of being the child of a pair of shameless, amoral grifters. In a textbook example of saving his best for the last, just as the year was coming to an end, Le Blanc's performance as a modern day Jimmy Stewart on Y&R's Christmas episode made what could have been a cliched It's A Wonderful Life rip off, one of the best episodes in soaps this season. Welcome back Mr. Le Blanc the thespian, we missed you.
No. 4: Trevor St. John - One Life to Live
How in the world do you sell a rapemance? We're not sure, but Trevor St. John pulled it off this year as the twisted Todd Manning romanced an amnesiac Marty Saybrooke (Susan Haskell), the woman Todd brutally gang raped over a decade and a half earlier. We here at Daytime Confidential made no secret of our utter disgust with this storyline, and to be perfectly honest, pray it doesn't start a trend, but there's really no denying that the actual storyline and performances were some of the best we saw in daytime this year. Like a gruesome car accident on the side of the road that leaves numerous, bloody victims, we couldn't look away and this was due in large part to St. John's ability to drive home the sheer depraivity that is Todd Manning. Talk about damaged goods.
No. 3: Billy Miller - The Young and the Restless
We knew Billy Miller was one to watch when he managed to radiate during the stinker of a storyline he had on All My Children as Richie Novak. Note to TPTB, it's not a good thing when your viewers are rooting for the psychotic villain against the storyline's hero and heroine. Thankfully, Miller escaped Pine Valley for the much greener and much more character-driven pastures of Genoa City. Miller injected a healthy dose of feverous sexual energy into Y&R as Chancellor/Abbott scion Billy. Miller's version of Billy recalls the early years of Y&R's other Abbott bad boy, Jack (then-Terry Lester). His immediate chemistry with the current Jack (Peter Bergman), as well as the rest of the Abbotts and Chancellors—especially his liquid hot chemistry opposite sister-in-law/baby mama Chloe (Elizabeth Hendrickson) — makes it seem like he's been there all along.
No. 2: Eric Braeden - The Young and the Restless
Eric Braeden may not be our top pick for Male Entertainer of the Year, but he is definitely daytime's biggest trooper of 2008. Being saddled with a turkey of a "love story" opposite the dreadful, one note Sabrina (Raya Meddine) was not what fans of Braeden's Victor Newman wanted for this beloved character. Flash forward to Sabrina's blessed demise and Victor Newman was back, complete with oustanding displays of grief, anger, depression and passion. Braeden managed the unthinkable, he caused even the most vocal of Sabrina detractors to mourn for her loss, just as Victor himself mourned. His ripped-raw scenes opposite long time leading lady Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) gave both actors their best material in decades, as Victor and Nikki's relationship finally reached the point of no return, with him blaming her for the death of his new bride and unborn child.
Then there was Victor's dealing with his other children, most notably his disappointing namesake Victor Jr. aka Adam (Chris Engen). Braeden was able to convey Victor's bitter rage at the betrayal perpetuated against him by Adam and Victor's arch nemesis Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman), yet somehow managed to reveal how much the Newman patriarch still loved his son. Speaking of love, the one woman who Victor has always loved and respected as his equal, the unforgettable Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson), returned in 2008, and this magical coupling picked up right where they left off. It's no wonder Braeden is the most popular leading man in daytime. If you don't believe us, just count his Soap Opera Digest covers.
No. 1: Entertainer of the Year - Tristan Rogers - General Hospital: Night Shift
For years fans of General Hospital have by crying out for a well-written, character-driven storyline featuring the soap's legendary veterans. This past year we finally got our wish, though ironically, not on General Hospital, but it's SOAPnet spinoff General Hospital: Night Shift. The second installment of Night Shift saw the return of Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers) to Port Charles, but this time there were no silly monkey flu capers or tired spoofs of the character's 80's-era glory for this veteran actor.
In 2008, Robin (Kimberly McCullough)'s superspy dad faced a foe much deadlier than Caesar Faison or Mikkos Cassadine– cancer. As a once larger-than-life, retrosexual, Hemingway-style hero, facing down his own mortality, Rogers brilliantly conveyed Scorpio's anger, frustration and sorrow. Maybe with all the acclaim Rogers and the rest of the cast and crew of General Hospital: Night Shift have received, the parent soap will finally realize what a treasure trove they have in regards to GH's heroes and heroines of old. We won't hold our breathe.