Donna Mills Is Scandalous In St. John

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Donna Mills presents at the 2014 Daytime EMMY Awards Photo by Bill Dow

Donna Mills presents at the 2014 Daytime EMMY Awards
Photo by Bill Dow

Americans love their TV villians. It was easier to identify a dangerous character in the old days. When Frankenstein’s monster came to your door, just one look and you knew where you stood. They wore black hats with ominous mustaches in the early TV westerns and even Barnabas Collins wore a black cape in “Dark Shadows.” Modern dramas have found Alexis Colby in Nolan Miller gowns while coach Sue Sylvester dawned a tracksuit to terrify students. On “General Hospital,” Donna Mills delivers the kind of TV bitch (as Madeline Reeves) that audiences all love to hate while wearing St. John.

Most dedicated fans know that Ms. Mills is no stranger to Daytime, having started in the 60’s on “The Secret Storm” and “Love is a Many Splendored Thing/”

Today, Ms. Mills has straddled and concurred both Primetime and Daytime Dramas. When asked what the most notable differences are, she remarked, “The amount of time it takes to shoot them. In Primetime, you have usually seven days to shoot a one-hour episode. In Daytime now, you can shoot two episodes in a day. When I first started in Daytime, you would have a whole day to shoot an episode and a rehearsal the day before. I guess now because of financial considerations, they can no longer afford to take that much time. Obviously, the longer you have to shoot, the better the production value and quality are.”

When asked about any particular anecdotes she would like to share about playing Madeline Reeves on General Hospital, Donna says, “I guess the funniest thing to me was the fact that I spent, I don’t know how long in that jail cell, and I never changed my clothes. Every time you saw me, there I was in that St. John red suit. I kept asking if I could have an orange jump suit. I love “Orange is the New Black,” but every day when I got to the studio, there was the red suit in my wardrobe.” Adding, “In one scene, I even got up in the morning, threw back the blanket, fully dressed in the suit!”

Curious as to any GH knowledge she may have had prior to accepting the role, Mills admits, “I had actually never watched ‘General Hospital’ in my life. I know it seems strange that somewhere in its fifty years on the air, I never saw it, but I didn’t. I had to ask the other actors on the show, who was who and how they were related and what their characters did. I didn’t even know who were the good guys and who were the bad guys!”

Mills is equally as accomplished behind the camera as well as in front, having several credits as an Executive Producer, which includes six of her TV Movies. She offers advice to those who may be similarly contemplating expanding their resumes. “I guess the best thing to tell people is that the material is the key. Find a story or a book or a news item that you like and feel strongly about and start developing it. It can take a long time. I had my movie ‘Runaway Father’ in development for four years. You have to really believe in it and be willing to take the rejections and keep going. The other key, of course, is the writer. You must be able to work with the writer to bring the project along.”

Mills recently presented at the 2014 Daytime EMMYS. Reflecting on the experience, she said, “It was nice to see, once again, how close knit the community of Daytime is. Most of the actors knew each other and it was nice to see their camaraderie.”

When asked what was on the horizon that Academy members should be made aware, she tells NATAS, “I am working on creating my own website, so that my fans can find me all in one place. I am also working on a biography and an “Over 50” Beauty Book,” adding, “I will also be going back to do another stint on General Hospital. I like doing a short little burst like that. It keep me connected and keeps my skills honed.”

Donna Mills on GH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHH5MzB7UKU

Donna Mills on GH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDBfykHL9tw