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EXCLUSIVE: Brian Gaskill Keeps It Real About Soaps and Giving Back to Children

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Daytime vet Brian Gaskill recently held an event for a good cause.  This past May, he was named the director of Garden State Players’ (a non-profit theater company in New Jersey) inaugural summer theater camp.  Celebrating his new spoken word poetry album, Make It Real, Gaskill held an intimate reading at Keyport’s luxe Trinty Resturant, a staple of the quaint Bayshore town.  Proceeds from this night of poetry went to help fund the company’s production of  Footloose.  The musical’s profits will then go towards benefitting a local children’s hospital.  

I chatted with the Models, Inc., All My Children, Port Charles, Guiding Light, As The World Turns and The Bold and the Beautiful alum before he took the stage to perform the material in front of an audience for the first time. Gaskill shared the details of his new gig, as well as what he thinks about the current state of television, and the fan efforts to resurrect daytime soaps.

Daytime Confidential:How did you become involved with Garden State Players?

Brian GaskillLauren [Raad], who runs it, is somebody I went to high school with.  She was actually a freshman when I was a senior at the performing arts school at Red Bank. I had started posting stuff on Facebook of these pamphlets that I made up in trying to pursue teaching.  ‘Cause I’ve done it at Red Bank Regional, and other places; I’ve had other workshops at places. When she saw this thing in this organized fashion, and I started to put it up there, she said, “Hey why don’t you come back home to New Jersey and teach for the summer?  We want to start a school for the theater company,” and I was just excited about it.  I wasn’t sure I was going to come at first, but then I decided that [I could] continue [to] do what I’m doing, and could pursue my career, but also broaden my life.  In the sense that when I’m waiting for other jobs, I don’t want to be a waiter, who’s you know, it’s okay to do that, but I’m 42 and I have other things to offer the world, and I love working with kids. I just always wanted to make it [teaching] a part of my life.  Even when I just did it—showing up and helping places, being there for kids, especially for high school—it is something that I’ve always been drawn to.  So, it’s just being part of an artistic community, and starting with her company at the ground floor and helping build it up to do more.  Right now they’re doing Footloose, but then in the future to do more original productions, and make it a real theater company, and help be a part of it. 

DC:  You grew up around here, right?

BG:  I did.  I grew up in Neptune and Ocean Grove, and I was bussed to Red Bank. 

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DC:  Did you do community theater as a kid?

BG:  No, mostly just in school.

DC:  Did you watch soaps growing up?

BG:  I did. Yeah, my mother did, so I grew up watching ABC.  So I watched One Life to Live and All My Children mostly.  Like, I was in school, but when I was sick or snowed in there, or during the summer time.  […] Now they’re gone. 

DC:  What do you think about that?  About soaps fading away?

BG:  The other day I got mad about it, finally.  But usually I just go with the flow.  Well, times change, things change.  It’s just the way it is.  It was a certain era, of entertainment, that’s not quite the same anymore.  I guess the online world is going to continue on with that.  And we’ll see what can be. And, like with everything online, if people can find a business model, if people can actually start to get paid, it could be okay.  But other than that it’s a struggle and that’s okay.  You know, everybody’s out there trying to make it happen for themselves.  So, it’s just times change. 

DC:  I heard you’re going to be on The Bay, right? 

BG:  Yeah, yeah that’ll be this summer.

DC:  Is that your first web soap?

BG:  Yeah, yeah, although [we] don’t even call it a “web soap” anymore.  It’s covered that way, but it’s more of a drama.  You know, even I never really even liked the word “soap.”  It’s a serial, it’s a drama serial, which I’ve always liked, even in primetime.  It’s just a continuing story. 

DC:  What shows do you like watching right now?

BG:  What am I liking?  I don’t watch a lot of TV.  I mean I like Parenthood, and I just finally watched Smash.  And I was able to watch it all straight though On Demand.  I liked it that way.  And I kept going “What’s going to happen next?!  What’s going to happen next?!”  If I had to wait a whole week, and I had to watch the whole thing over the course of 17 weeks, I would just be like [stamps his foot] “Ah!  This is taking too long!” 

DC:  What would be your dream show to be on?  Would it be Smash?

BG:  No, I mean I don’t know.  I like the show that’s on Showtime, with William H. Macy [Shameless]. I like that a lot.

DC:  Well, you maybe could play a long-lost Gallagher kid!

BG:  That’s true.  [Laughing] That’s awesome.  I like shows on cable ‘cause they surprise you.  A lot of times when I see a good independent film, I wish it would continue on ‘cause I love the characters so much.  A lot of times what’s on cable are like good indie films that get to continue on in television, so that’s the best of both worlds. 


DC:  I wanted to ask you about the fan campaigns that were organized to try and save soaps.  What did you think about those efforts?

BG:  I mean it’s cool when the fans step up.  But at the end of the day it becomes a money question for The Powers That Be as they call it, TPTB — whatever.  They’re basically just trying to keep their job, and stay on the air, and keep the shows — keep life going.  Keep the network going.  And they’re basically selling airtime for commercials. If they’re not bringing in enough money, things are going to get sliced.  A lot, a lot of people have to step up to say I’m watching this before the network’s going to take notice, so it’s hard to say.  I don’t know really. I never understood how the Nielsen ratings work. Sometimes I feel like they’re not really right.  But based on the way they’re running business now, they’re just trying to save money. I think a lot of times when we try to save money and go crazy […] you’re going to get results that the changes aren’t what you hoped they’d be.  But just like everyone else, they’re trying to keep their job and find their own way. 

DC:  How did you get the idea for a poetry event?

BG:  Kind of just coming back to town, and raising a couple bucks for the production, that’s going to raise money for the children’s hospital.  And it’s something Lauren wanted to do.  I thought it would be fun. I go to little coffee houses and poetry readings all the time, so it’s just fun.  And I invited George [Wirth] ‘cause I just love him, and I love his new record.  And, I don’t know.  When you’re an actor and a performer, or a producer, director, writer, whatever, you’re always trying to find ways to express yourself.  So, invite people to come, and see, and be a part of it.  Just keep it moving, keep it happening, keep things going.  [Don’t] be afraid to be yourself, or express yourself. 

DC:  Do you think you’ll do more in the future, or a different kind of event?

BG:  I don’t know. I mean I’ll always do something. I’ll be teaching, and I might do some appearances later in the summer.  I have some poet friends in New York […] I might go up and be a part of the group.  [Laughs] Try and be a real poet.  Try to just show up and see if I’m accepted. 

DC:  How long have you been writing poetry?

BG:  Since high school [laughs]; since the ‘80s—off and on.  I go through binges.  I’ve been writing a lot more.  A lot of the stuff on the album [Make It Real], I wrote last December and January.  It’s just something that happens when I feel moved to write. 

For more information about what he’s been up to, please visit Brian’s Facebook page.