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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


INTERVIEW WITH JOE BARBARA (JOE)


AWT: You've talked before about how when you read the breakdown for the character, you saw so many similarities. How were Joe Barbara and Joe Carlino alike, and how were they different?

JB: Well, I remember the original breakdown said that Joe Carlino went to a Catholic high school, played football, moved away to New York where he had family, and then went back home. It also said that his mother made novenas that her Joey would be kept safe, and when his friend got hurt playing football, Joe never played the same way again. If you change the word "football" to "basketball," you could've written all that about me. So I felt like I didn't have to search far for the character when I first auditioned. I'd say the family background and the convictions about doing the right thing are some of the things that we both shared. However, after my first six months, the writers changed and they started to change aspects of Joe's personality. That's when he began to be a little self righteous at times and have the rule-book stuck somewhere uncomfortable. I hope we were different in those areas.

AWT: What was your favorite storyline to play on AW and why?

JB: Well, let me preface that answer by explaining a little about how I felt about many of the storylines I played. Joe Carlino came on the scene as an ex-cop turned private eye. He was frustrated by being a cop in New York and not being able to make a difference. The rule-book was too restrictive. Drug dealers eventually got back on the streets. Bad guys got off on technicalities. I had a monologue with Sharlene once about a little five year old girl who was beat up and eventually killed by her mother's boyfriend. I talked about how, as a cop, my partner and I went to the house several times and weren't able to do anything to save her. That was the last straw - the thing that made Joe quit the police force and come back to Bay City to be a private eye and play by his own rules. So I never really bought that he would have re-joined the police force. The second set of writer/producers randomly decided to make Joe a cop, which, after his "history" didn't make much sense to me. The renegade or the bad guy always takes action. The cops are often the guys who say "No, we can't do that." Plus cops on soaps can't actually be too smart or proactive, otherwise they'd actually catch the bad guys and the conflict would be over. That being said, I did love playing a good guy.

Storylines? I'd say there were a few: Anything while I was still a private eye - doing whatever it took to catch that child molester, Bailey Thompson.

Another one which I loved was when it looked like Joe was on the take. They wrote that story so that even I didn't know if Joe was dirty or not. So I had to play it so it could be true either way. It gave so much dimension to each scene. That was fun because I got to be smart and bend the rules a little. It culminated with the police commissioner taking Paulina hostage and Joe shooting him. Unfortunately, that storyline came at a time when we were going through another writer/producer change and it was cut short and wrapped very quickly. It was fun, however, while it lasted.

Finally the other material that was so much fun was early on - the witty banter with Frankie in the private eye office, and especially the trio of Joe, Eddie, and Paulina, when Joe's dad was trying to get Joe and Paulina together (the dinners with Eddie and Paulina, Eddie talking about Italian opera and how it perfectly coincided with Paulina's losing Jake). That was some of the cleverest and funniest material that I was a part of. I also think that the relationships that those writers created were very real and not typical in daytime.

AWT: What are some of your favorites memories of life in Bay City?

JB: I loved doing the black and white 40s film noir scenes with Judi (Evans Luciano; Paulina) in the detective office. I loved getting shot and doing stunts. I absolutely loved about 75% of my scenes with Tommy (Eplin; Jake), and hated the other 25% of them. Working with Linda (Dano; Felicia) and Steve Schnetzer (Cass) was great. Kim Rhodes (Cindy) and I usually came up with something that amused us, if nobody else.

This may sound corny or typical, but I had some of the best times with fans at the events outside of the show. I still consider that "life in Bay City." I loved the fan club luncheons. Doing benefits not only raised much needed money for some extremely worthy causes, but they were opportunities to meet people who watched the show and for us to be a part of each others lives for a little while. I always felt very fortunate and blessed to be able to do that. It was one of the best parts of my job.

AWT
: What were some of the thoughts and feelings you had filming the last episode of AW?

JB: I knew it was historical. I knew it was an important moment in soap opera and television history. In this crazy business, any time a show lasts 35 years it's remarkable and historic. I think I felt like part of a team - literally - like maybe a tight end on a football team that won the Super Bowl; important, but yet just one member of a much larger group that had accomplished something special. I wanted to contribute something of my own to that episode, so when the gorilla was running loose, I had a line that, on the page, went something like, "If that gorilla gets to the highway, we're gonna be in trouble." So I didn't tell anyone, but when we went to tape I said, "If that gorilla gets to the highway, this whole town is gonna go bananas."

AWT: Do you keep in touch with anyone from the show?

JB: I do talk with John Littlefield (Gary) and Nadine Stenovitch-Littlefield (Josie) pretty regularly. I actually videotaped their wedding. It's been a while since I ran into anyone else.

AWT: You've done voices for Grand Theft Auto video games. How is it different acting just with your voice, versus using your whole body? Since so much of the acting in soaps is about tone and inflection, did being on AW help you with your voice career?

JB: The Grand Theft Auto games weren't just voice-overs. I did use my whole body. The difference was that we were wearing black spandex suits with little white balls on them so that all of our movements were captured with the motion capture technology. So the character of Ray Boccino, in the game really is me, movements and all, turned into an animated character.

AWT: What other projects have you been involved with since leaving AW?

JB: The biggest project has been starting a family. I got married the year after AW went off the air, and now have two boys, ages six and three. As far as work, I'm currently appearing at the Palazzo Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip eight times a week in the Tony Award winning musical, Jersey Boys. In the last few years, I've done several episodes of Law & Order, did a production of Guys and Dolls in Macau, China, and did an original musical entitled I Come For Love last fall in New York. Most exciting, however, is a screenplay that I wrote entitled Steve's Pizza. We have an award-winning director attached and hopefully will begin production in early 2010.

AWT: Where do you think Joe Carlino is today? What is he doing? Is he still a cop? Is he still with Paulina?

JB: He's rebuilt his parents' house from the ashes of the fire set by that dastardly Grant Harrison. He's definitely still with Paulina. Dante has four siblings, none of whom are named after renaissance painters, and yes, he's resigned from the BCPD, and started his own private eye business - walking the fine line between the law and common sense; doing whatever it takes to put the bad guys away.

AWT: Do you have anything you'd like to say to the fans who watched AW and still miss it ten years later?

JB: Wow. Obviously "Thank you." I meant what I said about what an honor it was to meet all the fans. It was truly one of the best parts of my job. You touched me way more than you know. It was an amazing ride, and I am sorry that we can't do it all over again. However, if you're ever in Vegas, please come see Jersey Boys and say hello after the show. I'd love to meet you. (For info on the show and to buy tickets, please click here.)

1 Comments:

Blogger Annette said...

RATS!! I was in Vegas last week (before this interview) and had no idea that Joe was in Jersey Boys. Would have loved to have taken him up on his offer.

June 18, 2009 at 8:07 PM  

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