INTERVIEW: Michael Damian on bringing Danny and his music back to Y&R

Posted Saturday, April 08, 2023 8:07:57 AM
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The Young and the Restless' Michael Damian opens up about his return as Danny Romalotti, performing a classic Y&R song for Phyllis Summers' memorial, and what the future holds for his time in Genoa City.

Fans who have been eating up Michael Damian's return as The Young and the Restless' Danny Romalotti won't want to miss a moment during the week of April 10 because the CBS soap opera is honoring the character and his musical past in a very special way: Danny will be performing an emotional song from the show's past in scenes that will air during Phyllis Summers' (Michelle Stafford) memorial.

Longtime fans are likely to instantly recognize the song, titled "There'll Never Be Another You," because Damian originally wrote it and performed it on Y&R back in the early 90s, when Danny and Cricket (a.k.a. Christine Blair, Lauralee Bell) were an item.

As Damian explains in an interview with Soap Central, the nostalgic tune serendipitously made its way back to the screen in the present day due to a multitude of things coming together at just the right time.

"I re-recorded the song only about a month ago, not planning to do it on the show. My brother, who is my writing and producing partner, had called and said, 'Hey, I wanna re-record this music because a lot of it is not streaming, and it would be great to get it out there and get it re-released, so do you want to re-record it and enhance it?' and I said yes, and that's how it all began."

He continues, "So, then I returned to Y&R, and I saw this new feature set on the show, and when I first saw that set and I saw that beautiful grand piano there on that stage, I was thinking, 'Oh, hey! I think Danny should jump on the keyboard and do something!' And then I got an email from Josh [Griffith], Y&R's head writer, and he said, 'Hey, do you want to do a song? We have an idea, and we think it would be perfect.' And since I was just in the studio re-recording 'There'll Never Be Another You,' I sent it to Josh, and he said, "This is perfect. Let's do this. You can perform this on the show."

While that was serendipitous in and of itself, Damian says things lined up even more after that.

"Turn the clock forward a few weeks to the Y&R time capsule opening that we did, and Christian LeBlanc [Michael Baldwin] opens the time capsule, and the first thing he pulls out is the sheet music to 'There'll Never Be Another You,' which had been buried 25 years ago. Josh was the only one who knew I was going to be performing it, and he looked over at me, and he was like, 'Wait a minute. That was really amazing and kind of wild and Twilight Zone-y!' That really solidified that the song was meant to be back on the show, but in different circumstances. It was really meant to be."

As for performing "There'll Never Be Another You" during Phyllis' memorial, Damian, who has released five albums with three Top 40 hits, says the experience has turned out to be a highlight of his long musical and acting career.

"It was very emotional because I was on the set, performing this song, and the whole entire cast is there on the set, and I don't recall ever doing a concert in the past as Daniel Romalotti where the entire cast is present," he explains. "So, this was very unique and very special to have this opportunity. And the song has multiple meanings. It even talks about, 'I've got my friends, they're always there,' and I look over, and there's Lauren and Michael and Traci and all of my friends, and Danny is thinking obviously about Cricket and also Phyllis, who's been a huge part of his life."

Speaking of Cricket and Phyllis, Damian hopes that the stars will align once more to allow him to spend more time in Genoa City so that the writers can go beyond his music and delve into these important relationships from Danny's past. He opens up in more detail about that and much more in the interview highlights below.

Soap Central: The fans have been so ecstatic about you being on Y&R again. How has the experience been for you?

Michael Damian: Oh, it's fantastic! It's great being back with the fabulous cast and crew and all those friends that I've grown up with. It's fun to be back at CBS on Fairfax and Beverly that I can drive to in my sleep, since I've been going there since I was 17 years old. It's really been a great few weeks.

Soap Central: The show has done a really good job of delving into its history for the 50th anniversary episodes. Has being a part of this celebration reminded you of any amusing memories that you'd forgotten about?

Damian: Probably just forgetting how to act until once I was there! [Laughs] I've been directing, writing, and producing with my fabulous wife and filmmaking partner, Janeen, and I say that about forgetting how to act jokingly, but it really has been great to reconnect to that other side of the camera. You really can forget what it's all about for actors and how difficult it is and how there's so much pressure... and it's really great to be reminded how it feels for the actors. It's all about allowing the actors to be in a great space and to be as creative as possible, and the show has done that, and it's been really harmonious.

Soap Central: Have you had a blast reconnecting with everyone this time around?

Damian: Absolutely! Michelle Stafford has been incredible to work with. She's very spontaneous, and that's what I really like about her; I have no idea what she's going to say next, even though it's scripted, but you just don't know if it's going to come out the way you think, and that's what makes it fun. Michael Graziadei [Danny Romalotti] is a chip off the block -- he is amazing. Tracey Bregman [Lauren Fenmore] is always fabulous, and it's been really special to work with Beth Maitland [Traci Abbott] again because I haven't seen her in a long time, and that was a lot of fun. It was also so wonderful having Patty Weaver [Gina Roma] back. She is just fabulous -- her energy, her spirit and her sparkle is there. I hope that we get to do some more scenes together and maybe even get her to sing something because boy, you wanna talk about a fabulous voice?! I keep teasing we should get the band back together! I really think we've got to do a song, a number, with me and Lauren and Traci and Gina up there. We could come up with something really groovy. I know right now isn't the best time to be singing with the circumstances, but you know, maybe in the future.

Soap Central: Speaking of the future, I know fans would really love to see more scenes between you and Lauralee Bell, considering your rich history together.

Damian: I know! Me, too. I didn't do many scenes with Cricket during this stint, but we had this one little moment and this one little connection closer to the holidays, where Danny and Cricket had their wonderful encounter and resolved a lot, and that was the beginning of their friendship or whatever it is to be starting. She gave him a ride to the airport, and a lot of fans have been writing to me practically every day on Twitter, asking, "What happened on the way to the airport? What's going on? You had a look! What does it mean?!" I would say it's not the right time [to explore that] because of all the drama with Phyllis, but eventually, I hope we can find out what's going on with Cricket and Paul [Doug Davidson], because that will make a very big difference [to any possibilities between Danny and Cricket]. The fans are very loyal to their relationship -- which they should be -- and Danny is not a homewrecker. He won't do anything stupid. But anyway, returning has been really fun. There's been a lot of really good stuff. I've loved working with Christian LeBlanc, and I even did a scene with Peter Bergman [Jack Abbott]! I haven't done a scene with him in, well, I don't think ever! And I even actually had a few moments with Eric Braeden [Victor Newman], which I hadn't done before, and Melody Thomas Scott, who plays Nikki. So, it's been quite a run! I'm never on the same set as them. I mean, I see them in the hallways, but it's been a pleasure to work with them during this stint. Every time Eric Braeden sees me in the hallway, he walks up to me, and he goes, "Michael Damian! Rock on!" Every single time.

Soap Central: Because you know these people so well, I imagine you're quite comfortable acting with them. But what about sharing scenes with someone like Eric Braeden for the first time, like you mentioned? Did you experience any nerves?

Damian: Oh, no! I love Eric Braeden. He's my bud. We see each other in the halls, and we talk a lot, and we spend time together. He's wonderful. I would love to do a scene with Victor Newman, are you kidding? How about Victor shaking it in Danny's next music video and singing, "Rock on!" [Laughs] It's so funny because, in between scenes, he's like, "Okay, Michael, come here. Let's sing a little 'Rock On' together." So, I'll sing, "Hey, kids, rock and roll," and he'll go, "Rock on." [Laughs] So we were doing that, and every time we would take a break, he'd say, "Come here, let's sing a little bit more. Come on, let's do another song."

Soap Central: You also had the chance to reunite with Tricia Cast (Nina Webster) during this run. What was that like?

Damian: Oh, it was great fun to reunite with her. We did a lot of scenes together way back when, and she is fabulous. All of these actors are just timeless, and I think it's important to keep that history and that nostalgia around in Genoa City. It's really important, and I think the fans really respond to it. I mean, that's why we have all these shows like Stranger Things; it's all retro and everything is a wink and a nod to all the things that we loved growing up, like The Goonies and Close Encounters and all the 80s music. And the audience that watches that show is made up of young people, as well, so I don't think it's just the older demographic, but I think the younger people can relate to it, as well. And with the flashbacks they've done on Y&R, it's really helped people get up to speed with the history for what's going on currently.

Soap Central: How do you feel when you watch those classic Y&R flashback scenes? Some actors enjoy them, but I know some feel embarrassed about their younger selves...

Damian: No, I really enjoy watching them! They were great times, and it helps me reflect on where I was back then personally and in story, and I get to see my different hairstyles! [Laughs] I love it. It's fun! And it's great when you're like, "Oh, my gosh, I don't remember that scene! When did I do that? Holy cow!" It's like looking at a scrapbook or a memory book of photos. And that's why the show is so popular -- we've got multiple generations who have been watching. A lot of the fans that talk to me on Twitter, their grandmothers and mothers were watching, and now they've got their kids watching, so it's fun.

Soap Central: Which cast member do you find yourself reminiscing with the most about the old days?

Damian: I've spent more time on this run with Tracey Bregman and Beth Maitland and Tricia Cast, so it was really fun, and Christian LeBlanc, and we were all in the dressing room, having lunch, and just everybody was having a good time, talking about great memories and all the fun we had and all the trouble we got into, and all the exciting and eccentric people we've worked with, like the directors and other crew members, some of whom we've unfortunately lost. We had a lot of those, "You remember when..." moments, like when we used to take the crew to Kelbo's on Fridays. We'd take them all out for a drink, and Tracey Bregman reminded me that one of the sound guys, we took him out with a bunch of the camera crew, and his wife was giving birth while we were at Kelbo's, and I remember getting the call and he had to leave, like, "I've gotta go -- my wife's having a baby!" We lost him, but his son is one of our top cameramen now. We might have lost a great man on the boom, but it's really wonderful to see his very talented son on camera.

Soap Central: While you were reminiscing, did any of you mention the song "There'll Never Be Another You"? I don't know if a lot of the cast remembered the song from the 90s?

Damian: Yeah, a lot of them did because the song was pretty popular on the charts way back when. So, a lot of them knew the song -- but I don't know if they knew it from the radio or from the show. I think they were just more shocked because they were at the time capsule opening, so when they pulled the music out, it was sort of the serendipitous moment that everyone was shocked about, that that was the first thing that came out of the box.

Soap Central: Will fans be able to find the song after it airs so they can listen to it again?

Damian: Yes, it's out now! We just released it last week. It's out to radio, and in fact, one of the big stations in Boston just added it to their playlist, so a lot of the major stations are playing the song again. And fans can also find it streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.

Soap Central: I know you've been busy writing and producing films, like the recent Netflix film Falling for Christmas that starred Lindsay Lohan, but are you still quite active with your music career?

Damian: Lately, it seems to be more active than ever! We're finishing a movie right now for Netflix called Irish Wish, and if you want to talk about serendipitous moments, I actually recorded another song way back when called "Wild Irish Heart," and it's going to be in the new movie. Is it kind of weird, or what?! Everything goes in these retro cycles. But the song just fit. We were looking for music, and Janeen goes, "Well, Michael, you did have a song out called 'Wild Irish Heart,' and we should probably revisit that." And I said, "Yes, you are brilliant!" So, I went in, re-recorded it, and it's a whole new version of it, so that's going to be in the film, Irish Wish, coming early next year, early 2024... So, a lot of music, which is kind of fun, because being a filmmaker, I'm blessed and thrilled to be able to keep my music going. It's a big part of my life and actually, the way I started in the business; it's actually how I got the job on The Young and the Restless to begin with, and it's really important for me to stay connected with it and as important to stay connected with the acting, which is why this return to The Young and the Restless has been so special. I love popping back into Genoa City any time, and I want to thank the fans because they have been so incredibly supportive.

Soap Central: I've actually noticed quite a few fans on social media who are wishing and hoping and praying that you will return to Y&R on a more permanent basis. Is that something you'd consider?

Damian: You never know! To quote James Bond, I never say never. It's been working out timing wise this time around, and I told the producers of the show -- Josh and team -- that what's great about shooting these films is that when I do shoot them, I shoot them out of the country, but we do the post-production in L.A., so I'm always back in L.A. when I'm doing post-production, and during those times, it is possible for me to come onto the show and wear both hats.

Soap Central: Are you able to say right now whether or not you'll feature in more upcoming episodes following Phyllis' memorial?

Damian: I don't have any information right now on that, but I do know that we talked a little bit about potentially something this summer. I think it's really up to the fans and how they react to everything happening on the show right now and Danny's return. So far, it's been a really good reaction, especially his scenes with Daniel. That is really important, I think, to have that family structure on the show, and that's really what the show has always been about. Besides the romances and all of the drama that ensues, it's always at the core about family -- going way back to the Fosters and the Brooks and the Abbotts and the Newmans and the Romalottis.

Soap Central: Is there anything from Danny's past that you'd like to see the writers tackle, maybe if you were to come back this summer?

Damian: Oh, I think everybody wants the same thing, and that is, "Is there a future for Danny and Cricket?" That's really the big unanswered question mark, and I think that's what the fans want to see more than anything. That's all I get on social media! "She drove you to the airport -- what happened?!" [Laughs] So, we'll see if maybe we can explore that this summer.

Soap Central: I'd really like to thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. I can assume you're a very busy man, with producing films and recording music and acting on Y&R.

Damian: Well, thank you. I'm actually just doing a little dishwashing at the moment. Can you hear it?

Soap Central: I was wondering what that noise was! You're a great multitasker.

Damian: Back in the day when I did the show and I was promoting my records, I had a waterproof shower phone because I had to do interviews every morning with the radio stations, and I would just take the waterproof shower phone into the shower and do interviews.

Soap Central: Really?!

Damian: Yes! Because I had to get onto the set, I had to multitask!

Soap Central: Did you tell the radio audience you were in the shower? Like, "Hi, I'm Michael Damian, live from my shower."

Damian: Yes, exactly! That's exactly what I'd say, and they loved it. "Where are you calling from, Michael?" "I'm in the shower right now." [Laughs] And then I'd connect from the car on my way to CBS and jump on the set. Those were fun times.

The 2023 version of Michael Damian's Y&R hit, "There'll Never Be Another You," is currently streaming on music platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.

What do you think about our interview with Michael Damian? How do you feel about Y&R incorporating a new version of the actor's song "There'll Never Be Another You" into current-day episodes? What would you like to see from any future appearances by Damian and his character, Danny Romalotti? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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