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DAYS Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans Talk Patch & Kayla's Wedding Day, And The Return of Shelley Hennig!

Courtesy/NBC

Courtesy/NBC

You can’t get any more super, than soap opera super couple Patch and Kayla. For decades on Days of our Lives, ardent and passionate fans have followed the perils, the ups and the downs, and the love story of these two characters.  In affairs of the heart you often hear the term, “opposites attract”, and for these two Salemites that certainly holds true.

But behind the on-screen magic that makes Stayla one of the most beloved TV couples of all-time, are the performances of their iconic performers; Stephen Nichols (Patch) and Mary Beth Evans (Kayla).  Their collaboration is one for the ages, and one that has stood the test of time. It is often said that the respect and love these two have for each other always shines through in their performances.

This Valentine’s week, DAYS is giving their fans the wedding they have been waiting for when Patch and Kayla say their vows in front of their family and friends in episodes airing February 15th and 16th.   And just who returns for the big day?  None other than Patch and Kayla’s daughter, played by the beautiful and talented Shelley Hennig who last appeared on the long-running daytime drama series in 2011.

On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Stephen and Mary Beth for a preview of the big day, and how they make their on-screen love story one of the best in the biz.  Here’s what they shared.

When the two of you finally got to this long-awaited moment for Patch and Kayla, and they were really going to tie-the-knot for real this time, what were your feelings as you were going through once you hit the soundstage and began the vows?

Photo: SNicholsInstagram

MARY BETH:  They gave us some freedom on our vows, and Stephen and I said things we really wanted to say to each other.  We know these characters so well, and are big fans of Patch and Kayla, and their love story, and we try to stay true to it.   It was so wonderful to have it all come together, and to have our family there including: our sweet Stephanie with Shelley Hennig coming back.  It was really lovely.

Shelley Hennig returned for the wedding as Patch and Kayla’s daughter, Stephanie.  What did it mean for the both of you to have her there as part of the on-screen nuptials?

STEPHEN:  Oh, just a joy!  During the vows she was on the side that Mary Beth was on, so I could actually see her a lot of the time – not that I would be looking at her, because I was so focused on Mary Beth.  But I have to say, Shelley was so in it the entire time.  In fact, the director, Scott McKinsey said to me how wonderful Shelley was to work with.  Shelley was there for us the minute she came on to the set.

Courtesy/NBC

MARY BETH:   Shelly said, “I’m just so nervous, because I didn’t want to let you guys down.”   I went, “Oh, my God!”   She is so amazing. Shelley is the love bug of the century.  We love her.

STEPHEN:  We didn’t know what to expect! Neither of us had seen Shelley in several years. She came back as if she had never left.  Shelley has matured so much.  I loved seeing how she has grown up.

The wedding of Patch and Kayla is a big moment for the show, and for the couple’s enduring fans.  Did you feel enormous pressure when performing the scenes that it has to be damn good, and that you did not want to disappoint the audience?

STEPHEN:  If I am thinking about those things, it throws me off.  I don’t ever allow those kinds of pressures to get to me.  The way I fight it is to get so focused on what I am doing and what my intentions are, and what I am saying to Mary Beth.  That is how we approached it this time … it was very simple.  It was about what we said to each other.   It wasn’t about anything else.  We worked on it for several days just trying to get those scenes and the words right.

Courtesy/NBC

Mary Beth, when you watch Stephen portraying Patch (as you are playing Kayla), what is it like being on the other side of what Stephen is giving?  As fans know, he can turn on those emotional tears like no one else, and he allows himself to be vulnerable, all for the love of this woman.

MARY BETH:   You know, it’s all such a swirl.  We get here to the studio, and we are trying to learn our lines, and in the meantime you are trying to find your subtext in the scenes.   In the wedding, in particular, everything has to stop.  We have to let all that go and pay attention to each other.  That is what works so well for us.   When we connect it’s just right on.  That is when things go great.  As I said before, Stephen and I really love each other, the characters, and our story, and so to just let go and fall into it, and to be part of the now of the moment, that is what happened to us during those scenes.  To have our family all around us and to feel the love, you believe it, and you play it.  As to your question about if there is pressure, I didn’t feel pressure.  I was just excited that we had that day.

STEPHEN:  What happened on stage that day was that we could feel that everybody was with us including the actors, the crew, and you could hear a pin drop.  And if nothing else brings your energy up that will.  It was just so sweet.

MARY BETH:  Nobody was bored. Nobody was irritated.  Everybody was excited!

What do you think fans will take away from the nuptials?  Will they get the wedding they want to see for Stayla?

Courtesy/NBC

MARY BETH:   I think so.  It’s not flashy. It’s not on a boat.  We have done that already. This is a very intimate, heartfelt, mature moment of a couple who have weathered the storm.  There is something so beautiful about coming out on the other side of the storm.

Mary Beth, why was Kayla so hard on this guy?  Patch truly showed how much he loved her, yet she would put up a wall, and previously, would not let it get to the point their relationship is at on-screen today.

MARY BETH:  Part of it was she was so afraid.  Kayla loved this guy, hook, line and sinker.  When they got divorced it was very difficult for her, and then fast forward ten years, she forged a life that she controlled, and in which she could control her environment. Kayla raised a son, and supported herself and him.  Steve brought chaos into that control.  I’m not that kind of person in real life, but I think for people who are like that, it’s a very scary thing to be vulnerable again, and to let your guard down.  I think every time she did over the last couple of years shenanigans would happen and then she would be say to herself, “Yes, I was right to keep him at bay.”  Finally, Kayla and Dena Higley (former DAYS co-head writer) decided to stop that, and so that’s what happened and got us here to Patch and Kayla’s wedding day.

I heard that DAYS costume designer, Richard Bloore, found the perfect wedding dress for Kayla!

Courtesy/NBC

MARY BETH:   It was perfect.  Richard Bloore does all the shopping for the show and he knows our bodies, and our flaws, and plusses. The wedding dress I wore is the only one I tried on, and I loved it.  I would love to dye it another color, and actually wear it another time for something.

STEPHEN:  Richard got me the most beautiful tuxedo and it fit me like a glove!

James Lastovic plays your on-screen son Joey, and Joey wanted so badly, for so long, his parents to remarry and be a family again. That must have also been special to play.

MARY BETH:  The scenes that James had, and all of us had with Shelley, as the Johnson family were so great.  It was a great couple of days to shoot.  It really, really was.

What is in the future for Patch and Kayla post-wedding?  Will things simmer down now … or, will Kayla, Patch, or Joey be kidnapped again, etc? (Laughs)

Photo: MEvansInstagram

MARY BETH:  We are taping new episodes a few months from the wedding, and we are still happy … so that’s good.

STEPHEN:  However, there are a few things going on.  There has got to be a story.  We can’t just be coming in to each scene kissing and a hugging.

MARY BETH:  Sure we can!  What do you mean? (Laughs)

So, are you excited for the wedding of Patch and Kayla? What do you think about Shelley Hennig coming back to DAYS to be at her on-screen parents nuptials? What do you think will happen to the happy couple once they make it official? Do you hope they have months of marital bliss, or do you want to see Patch and Kayla in the middle of heavy drama and adventure? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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rebecca1nancy dillinghamCelia4ever DAYSjaybird369 Recent comment authors
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Jimh(leave it to beaver)
Guest
Jimh(leave it to beaver)

I just wish they would update Patch’s Fonzie meets The Pirate’s of The Caribbean look…it makes Stayla more like Staleya…wearing that all the time is like wearing the same underwear more than once a week-ew…ok, i had worn mine all week once but i was very ill at the time-lol but that is not the point..anyway, i find combining names almost childish and outdated…i like Patch&Kayla…sounds more romantic like Scarlett and Rhett…does ScarRhett sound romantic-NO!…sounds like a fever one gets from traveling abroad!!!-lol.

Jimh(leave it to beaver)
Guest
Jimh(leave it to beaver)

I do not see anybody today wear a patch unless its medical related but they dont wear it forever.-he did go without it before..we can still call him patch…just put a patch on his jeans if someone doesn’t get the nick name!!!

Celia
Guest
Celia

I would like to see “Patch” without the patch mysrlf, Jimmy. But, I don’t know how the ‘transformation’
Would be received, after all is ssid that done.
Anyway, I truly enjoyed today’s episode. ….almost perfect!!

Jaime
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Jaime

Steve is one hottie! Don’t change the best of the best!

nancy dillingham
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nancy dillingham

Agree and I love both actors and “Patch” and “Kayla.” Always have. And I have read/heard a lot of interviews they have given. I’ve come away each time feeling their genuine care for each other, for the characters, for the fans. Just beautiful to know that. Patch and Kayla forever. PS I also read Mary Beth’s blog PLANK.

JMER
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JMER

I am so jealous that Days allows their Classic SuperCouples to be featured in front and center stories and cares enough to marry them. I am jealous right now of Y&R and the new opening as well which is incredibly well shot and includes their classic theme song. I guess that all goes with being a Classic GH fan and I’ve developed good coping skills. Paltry scraps for us on current day GH; things haven’t been good for decades.

davlestev1
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davlestev1

What would be good to you? Not being sarcastic just wondering how you would paint the canvas on a daytime drama especially the one you’re passionate about.

JMER
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JMER

The problem with GH is that they are serving too many divided audiences and haven’t found a solution that will appease most of the fans. The top 4-5 characters with airtime are still the actors that were heavily featured during 2000-2011 which is when many 80s and 90s fans dropped out of the show due to the narrow focus and dark vision for the show. They also have brought in many new characters and haven’t developed them the past few years plus the weight of trying to redeem the Franco character who was never meant to be redeemed. It’s pretty… Read more »

Sam
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Sam

GH is in trouble, horrible mob storylines. Time to cancel Gh, and bring back OLTL on ABC.

Jaime
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Jaime

GH has overdone the Mob for years! Have not liked it since they decided a mob Hit man could moralize to the entire GH community and only those who dislike the mobsters are ever truly punished!!!

Yes, GH lost its soul a long time ago

Newmanwins
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Newmanwins

This site really has become a waste land of total hate…more people again saying cancel GH in a non GH topic…how disrespectful to the real fans to have to read that garbage.

Newmanwins
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Newmanwins

Please….GH has been telling more hospital stories than mob stories during Jelly’s first 16 months…but carry on with the repetitive misinformed rants…even though the mob has been toned down a ton under FV…it’s still a part of the show but it’s not eating the show like during the JFP days….ten years ago there were ten mobsters on contract….now there a only two with Sonny and Julian…both Jason and Ava left the business.

Newmanwins
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Newmanwins

GH is not in trouble…look at the recent ratings…worry about DAYS.

Evan
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Evan

Sam I agree with you, pull the plug ABC. Cancel GH. Bring Back One Life To Live. General hospital is very painful too watch, right now. Pull the plug and end GH.

rebecca1
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rebecca1

I loved OLTL and would love to see it back…but not at the expense of GH. It’s been holding my attention and I have no desire for them to “pull the plug.”

ML
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ML

I’m so happy Patch and Kayla are still together and just as much as in love as they were when they first met. I love to watch old videos on YT and realize their love story has endured. I LOVE that. All the credit to their beautiful love story…the best I’ve ever seen on tv to Mary Beth and Stephen. The writing in the 80’s was the best and I agree with both actors that their reunion this time with the ups and downs was handled very well. Look forward to many more years of Steve and Kayla btw, the… Read more »

nancy dillingham
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nancy dillingham

Yes, and Stephen Nichols has said as much–he thinks Patch is just not Patch without the patch–lol!

su0000
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su0000

Hey!
that’s Y&R Tucker!
I want Tucker back!

Jaime
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Jaime

You can thank JFP for that one. She had to bring on her pets and eliminated talent. In so doing I think she did a huge disservice to the Chancellor family and what could have been

Cheri
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Cheri

Love love LOVE this couple! Now if we can just get John and Marlena married beautifully and Jack back for Jennifer? All of us long-time fans will be happy to wander through whatever they do with the youngsters. Just so we can see our favorites. Oh, and Justin and Adrienne need to be together, as well. As you can see, I am a HEA girl. 🙂

John Gordon
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John Gordon

Geez, ENOUGH already – aren’t they getting a little tired of having the same couple march down the aisle well into their 50’s or however old they are supposed to be? Not that I have anything against older couples, I don’t of course but how many more Brides in the 50+ category on this show are going to be blushing in White gowns? After a while, it’s a little tiresome – plus, although this is off-topic, I thought the way they explained “Stefano” being in the Jail cell even though it was another character wearing a rubber glued-on mask and… Read more »

Celia
Guest
Celia

You are so funny, John. Don’t you know that you can get in deep caca when you talk about older characters doing the ‘young’ thing in what is considered a negative subject?! Hey, I agree with you. I was ‘attacked’ on more than one occasion when I stated that same fact, in a different way and/or situation. I think that the symbolism of wearing white, on one’s wedding day, has lost its meaning through the decades. I doubt there are any virgins around anymore! LOL. But, be that as it may, a white, lacy, frilly, a definite look of what… Read more »

nancy dillingham
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nancy dillingham

Don’t think I mentioned the word “frilly” or “lacy”–nor did I say ANYONE was not entitled to her opinion. Gee, you seem really thin skinned–and really angry at me for some reason I can’t fathom. I was not in any way directing my comments to you–and I haven’t responded to any of your posts: my 95–year-old mother is in rehab and I am going each day at 8:00 to see/help her. This is one of my first times to comment on this blog in a very long time–and it was a nice respite to the tension and uncertainty of the… Read more »

nancy dillingham
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nancy dillingham

Read my lips: the word I used was “white”: do you have ANYTHING against the color white??

rebecca1
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rebecca1

As many as get married and who feel like wearing it. To be literal… anyone can wear anything, anytime. And, in this day and age…are there really any virgins getting married at ANY age??? (The old symbolism for the white wedding dress has long passed its day.) As for WHY they portray couples in mid age getting married…maybe because there is a huge amount of people who don’t marry until later in their lives or perhaps are divorced or widowed. If, however, you’re referring to just one couple…this “same couple” as you say…then it’s just the formula of the soap… Read more »

nancy dillingham
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nancy dillingham

Bravo and thanks. “Anyone can wear anything, anytime”: you say it so very well–simply and eloquently.
And, yes, I agree with your other statement as to why portray couples in mid-age getting married: “Maybe because there. . .are. . .people who don’t marry until later in their lives or perhaps are divorced or widowed.” I
Again, you say it so very well.

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

And I love your romantic last statement: “If two people can still make each other blush . . . that the icing on the (wedding) cake.” A lovely sentiment. PS And doesn’t an elegant creamy white simple suit (or dress) just ooze elegance? Sounds like something I might choose–or even an elegant pants ensemble? I’ve never taken the leap–never been married, but a girl can still dream (and fantasize) can’t she? LOL! PS 2 You made my day–thanks for the uplift. After coming out of the “ice” of dealing with my 95-year-old Mother’s extended 2-week hospital stay after contacting “institutional… Read more »

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

rebecca1, your reply to my post was so very sweet. I do find the soaps a welcome “escape,” and it’s so very nice to read your sentiments re my time with Mother–brought tears to my eyes. Thanks again–means a lot.

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

Some people/characters never get tiresome–because they are so genuine. And one can wear what she wants for her wedding; the color white can be worn by someone 70+ (my age!) if she so desires. (Hey, what a good idea I had–lol)

Celia
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Celia

That’ s your opinion, Nancy. More power to you….but, it would not sit well with me. Different women, different personalities. What’s the adage? ” different strokes for different folks”. Perhaps it’s becsuse there is a 40-year difference between us. I have a different mindframe. I find it obnixious for an elderly bride to wear a frilly, lacy wedding dress, regardless of color. It does not make me right, but it is how I feel, by the same token, I respect how you feel, but it does not make you right, either. That is why our thoughts are called opinions. It… Read more »

Celia
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Celia

And, I am not talking about Kayla….she is neither elderly, nor was she wearing ridiculous frills.

rebecca1
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rebecca1

Nancy…you’re very welcome and if you’ve read many of my posts for a few years I’m a big women’s advocate and am beyond sick and tired of the juvenile, judgemental posts on how a woman should dress at “her” age.

Please take care of yourself during this stressful time with your mom. It’s not easy…and quite emotional…frightening. If you can use the soaps to “escape”…try. Reality is too often very difficult.

jkenney
Guest
jkenney

Is the actress who plays Grandma Brady no longer on the show?

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

Peggy McCay (Caroline Brady) asked for time off a while back to work on her autobiography, jkenney, but has recently been battling health problems.

TMJ
Guest
TMJ

Peggy McKay works as her health permits. Unfortunately, lately, that has been less and less.

Mo
Guest
Mo

Thanks for the info. I had wondered about her. Maybe they should recast.

su0000
Guest
su0000

ok=
this guy ”Patch ”
Why doesn’t he get his eye fixed?
He could get an artificial eye…
I know someone with one and really, if he hadn’t told me I’d of never thought he had an artificial eye..

So–
I have to label his eye patch as Super Lame !!

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

Steve did have a glass eye, su0000. When the character was first introduced in the mid 80’s he was known as Patch because he was a thug who wore an eye patch, but as other characters got to know him, especially Kayla (Sweetness), he was referred to as Steve and/or Steven…The same could be said of most viewers. DAYS fans knew there was more to him than met the eye. Around 1990 (DAYS’ 25th anniversary) Patch, Steve to most characters and viewers by then, had surgery to remove his scar and received a glass eye to go undercover in an… Read more »

Celia
Guest
Celia

Thank you, 4ever. There’s nothing more unnerving than someone posting on a soap of which he/she does not watch, nor knowing the characters’ history.
I can always depend on you for the right info, my friend.

Celia
Guest
Celia

BTW, 4ever, and out of context….I had mentioned a while back that I suspected Andre was really Tony.
I am beginning to hold fast to that and believe my own suspicions. Is there a minute chance Andre is Tony?

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

You say it so very well!

Mo
Guest
Mo

They had storylines where he didn’t wear a patch and it didn’t go over so well. The patch is part of his appeal apparently.

Jaime
Guest
Jaime

Not every character has to be a total soap stereotype. too many soap men are exactly alike minus the name! A guy with sex appeal, personality and a little bit that is all his own is a gem!

Celia
Guest
Celia

Su, you must understand that Patch/Steve would not be the character he represents without his patch. It is what makes him. Can you think of Victor Newman without his mustache? LOL.
I take it you’re not too familiar with this character? LOL.

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

Now, su0000, you just HAVE to keep up. Been there; done that–tried Patch without the patch. Stephen Nichols said it just wasn’t Patch without the patch (see my earlier post.) Come on, girl, get with the program–and I mean that literally–lol!

k/kay
Guest
k/kay

Have not watched in over a decade but these two are magical the live and respect they have on and off camera is awesome. Congratulations to them both super human beings!!!

k/kay
Guest
k/kay

Love

buttercup
Guest
buttercup

So happy to see Steve and Kayla finally remarry… it’s been 27 years and they’ve been through so much since their last wedding (presumed death, divorce, baby, baby murdering Steve’s ex, lol). Can’t wait to see Shelley, too.

Mo
Guest
Mo

I thought they were supposed to get married on Valentine’s Day, which was yesterday. Is Salem using a different calendar than the rest of us?

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

They were preempted–now for 2 days (yesterday by that unhinged person’s “news conference”–maybe we’ll get lucky and see the wedding Fri.? Nonnamed person has “flown” to Fla!

Mo
Guest
Mo

Days was pre-empted again today???!!! You have got to be kidding me.

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

Oh, how did I miss the wedding–something else on today (Fri.)–was it that short???? Oh, my dears, must I go to youtube to see what I have been waiting for for oh-so-long? Horrors upon horrors! CAN’T believe I missed it.

Celia
Guest
Celia

Unhinged, someone??

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

The actual wedding took place during thursDAYS episode. You can watch the entire episode at nbc.com

Mo
Guest
Mo

It’s nice for Shelley/Stephanie to be back. She has grown up. I saw a picture of her and didn’t recognize her.

Jaime
Guest
Jaime

Its just a shame that the writers made Steve & Kayla extras on their wedding so they could once again hand the program over to propping Rafe and Hope! Not a smart move on either the part of the writers Higley AND QUAN nor the producers yes you Mr Meng.

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

Why has a DAYS thread turned into a GH thread, including a huuuuuge comment regarding GH?

PEOPLE ARE RAINING ON DAYS’ PARADE!

JMER
Guest
JMER

My original comment was a positive one about Days and their marrying Steve & Kayla but I was asked a question about GH, something that required a long explanation so that’s why I added that huuuge comment. No other reason. I thought it would be impolite to not answer at all and I don’t do questions like that halfway. No rain for Days, just positivity.

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

I should have said people are stealing DAYS’ thunder.

rebecca1
Guest
rebecca1

no need to apologize JMER. no one runs this site other than Michael Fairman. if he approves your comment dont’ worry about another poster’s criticism.

Celia
Guest
Celia

YEAH!!!!! Say it again, 4ever!!

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

I have wished for the day that Anna would come back and discover Andre is really Tony, Celia. I think it’s possible, but maybe that won’t happen until Ron’s writing materializes.

Celia
Guest
Celia

Thanks for that 4ever. Now, I don’t feel so alone in my thinking. I mean, why would they bring Anna back? It makes sense. To be honest with you, I’d love it if Andre turned out to be Tony.

Celia
Guest
Celia

They are GH stalkers, 4ever. LOL…..some of which I have not seen on the DOOL sites. How strange!!
I will echo what most have said. It’s about time Kayla and Steve were married again…..this poor woman has been through so much. I hope this time, the PTB leave this couple alone by not giving Patch flight for the umpteenth time.

rebecca1
Guest
rebecca1

Celia. Contrary to your belief…soap viewers are actually “allowed” to post on ALL soaps whether they meet with your “required” viewing habits or not.

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

Thanks so much for the info on watching wedding of Patch and Kayla.

jaybird369
Guest
jaybird369

I’m sorry…but I DO NOT want to watch Patch and Kayla walk down the ole soap opera aisle all over again. N-o. And…this makes me wonder what’s next after that…Rafe and Hope (also) getting hitched?!?!? BEYOND Y-U-C-K!!!!!!!!!! ULTIMATE NO, NO AND MORE NO!!!!!!!!!!

Later.

Celia
Guest
Celia

Say it again, Jay. But, some make it quite difficult to express an opinion. Soap or not, I find it absolutely out of kilter for an older bride to go overboard on a wedding gown fit for a young bride. My opinion!!!!
I equate it to an eighty-year old wearing a mini skirt, especially without pantyhose and six-inch heels. I have seen it.
Oh, yeah…Hope acting the teen, blushing ingenue with Rafe. I have always balkd at this coupling, albeit, I am starting to accept its pairing. But, as you say; no walking down the aisle with bells and whistles.

rebecca1
Guest
rebecca1

Give it up CeeCee. jabybird didn’t mention age…you did. Again. You’re way too haughty. Come down from that undeserved ledge.

Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Alison Sweeney on Working with Bryan Dattilo: “28 Years Later, Some Things Never Change. Still Laughing Between Takes and Grateful to Have Such a Talented Supportive Co-Star”

This week, Days of our Lives viewers have witnessed that Sami Brady DiMera (Alison Sweeney) and Lucas Horton (Bryan Dattilo) hit the sheets, and Lumi fans everywhere rejoiced!

On and off, for almost three decades. Alison Sweeney and Bryan Dattilo have played the relationship between these two exes who share children together to the hilt, because Sami and Lucas’ history is well … complicated.

But, what will happen if and when EJ finds out that Sami had sex with her ex? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Alison took to her Instagram and shared her thoughts alongside photos of her and Bryan, then and now.

Over the years, Bryan had remained one of Alison’s good friends.

Sweeney expressed: “I have always had such fun working with @bryan.dattilo !! 28 years later, some things never change. Still laughing between takes and grateful to have such a talented, supportive costar. Thanks @nbc for this great archive photo! And so grateful to @nbcdays for the incredible opportunity to play Sami.”

What did you think of the scenes where Sami and Lucas slept together and its aftermath thus far? Comment below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ali Sweeney (@alisweeney)

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Days Of Our Lives

Kevin Spirtas Talks ‘After Forever’s’ Digital Special ‘Riley’s Unforgettable School Project’, The Loss of Michael Slade, and a Chance to Reprise DAYS Craig Wesley

The coronavirus pandemic has put to the test many content creators on just how they would keep their projects moving forward in ways they never dreamed of. However, out of that situation has come some of the most compelling, unique series, specials, and features currently streaming for viewers. One of which is Riley’s Unforgettable School Project, brought to you by the team from the six-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning series, After Forever.

Former Days of our Lives star, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley) has starred in and created the first two seasons of what has become the most honored Emmy-awarded LGBTQ-themed drama series on any platform.  Along with his ‘After Forever’ writing/producing partner, the late Michael Slade (DAYS, OLTL, Passions, Another World), the two also conceptualized and delivered this latest documentary-style offering now on Amazon Prime Video.

What makes Riley’s Unforgettable School Project so noteworthy is not just how they were able to execute the series based on fictional 11-year-old Riley’s virtual school project and utilize its cast, which includes: Spirtas, Cady Huffman, Jamison Stern, Lenny Wolpe, Erin Cherry, Anita Gillette, Christopher J. Hanke, and Finn Douglas, but that it was made while Slade was succumbing to his battle with cancer, and that this special marks the final script from this talented writer.

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Spirtas about making the special during Covid-19, how the death of Michael Slade has made a lasting impact on his life, what After Forever has personally meant to him, and how an official third season is still in the works, and … if he would consider a return to Salem and Days of our Lives, should they come a-calling.  Here’s what Kevin had to say about it all.

Photo: AfterForever

I think the entire story of this digital special has become even more meaningful with Michael Slade’s passing. What was the genesis of the concept? You wanted to continue the telling of the story of After Forever … but we are all in the middle of a pandemic?

KEVIN:  Yes and… when we filmed season 2, we had the scripts for season 3 already completed. It was our hope and desire to film them at the same time, back-to-back, so that we would have had all of our cast and crew together, and we could have gotten through it because we’ve always imagined this story being told in a trilogy so to speak – a beginning, middle, and end to Brian (Spirtas) and Jason, (Mitchell Anderson) and Brian’s healing or his steps towards healing through grief.  Schedules turned out that they couldn’t really work out for us to hold all the people and hold all of the sets for that amount of time.  So, we thought, “We’ve got the scripts for season 3 ready.  We’ll come back to it in the following year,” and that was always the intention, and then the pandemic hit.  So, it was shut down immediately that we weren’t going to do anything, but we wanted to stay current, and instead of going back in and telling the third installment of After Forever as a Covid-19 story as well, Michael and I sat down and looked at a way of staying relevant and current with a story within COVID, and there was born the idea to do this documentary style story/special about the characters of After Forever told through the lens of the character of Riley, the 11-year-old boy, who is now being homeschooled during the pandemic. He gets an assignment to do a project about the most unforgettable person he has ever met, and he, of course, chooses his best friend, the late Jason Adams, and he enlists all of Jason’s friends and family to join in.  Michael actually said, “What if we tell a story about Riley being homeschooled?” And, not only is Riley a technical genius at 11-years-old in the story, but Finn Douglas, who plays Riley, is a technical genius.

And didn’t Finn perform and write the song “Forever There” contained within the special?

KEVIN. Yes. He is this incredible musician.  Michael thought, “What would it be like if we asked to have the character of Finn sing a song for Jason?”  I said, “Well, what kind of song would we have him sing?”  Finn could play anything, I’m sure, because he’s self-taught, he plays by ear – guitar, piano, and drums.  Michael said, “What if we ask him to see if he could write a song?” and when we heard this song, we all called each other and we all got on Zoom and went, “Can you believe this song?  Can you believe this came out of this 11-year-old?”  It’s pretty incredible.  Michael did a gorgeous job of weaving the stories in and out and how they just sort of dove-tailed into each other, and then it was framed by Riley opening the project and ending the project.  During the Zoom reading we wanted to hear the song out loud.  We said to Finn, “Would you want to sing the song?”  We all just watched everybody on that Zoom call just fall apart.  It was just so beautiful. He’s an amazing talent.

Where is your character within this?

KEVIN:  I still stand in the center of the story of Jason because my character, Brian, was married to Jason, and it sort of connects us all, and through Riley’s understanding of how we all connect to Jason, is how we are all sort of spread out throughout the story.  Michael jokingly said, “You know, you’re not going to be the star of this special,” and I said, “I don’t think it’s about being the star.  It’s really about the storytelling.”  The beauty of Riley’s Unforgettable School Project is that we get to see moments of each person’s relationship with Jason, which Riley sets out to say, “Answer these three questions: What did you like most about Jason?  What did you like least about Jason? And what’s your favorite memory?”  Those three things, cut back and forth is where we all kind of fit in.  Nobody has more of a story than the next person, and it’s all telling honest portrayals of how they’re dealing with their loss of their good friend, or their child, or partner.

It’s a very inventive idea during Covid-19 to continue it in a way where you weren’t having to go shoot a full season of episodes.

KEVIN:  Well, we couldn’t. I have to say, Allison Vanore, who not only produced this special, but she also stepped up saying, “I’d love to direct this,” and I said, “Yes, please!”  She knows the characters.  She understands the story because she’s been a part of it for the last two seasons.  Allison also has this extraordinary amount of knowledge and expertise with the camera and what was needed for a remote shoot, and to also be able to organize filming 13 people in 2 different countries and 5 different cities… that’s just the technical side of it, but having that in our back pocket, knowing that it was a remote shoot, we had to send the camera, the computer, the ring light, and the microphone to each person’s house.  We had to location scout over Zoom.  We had to do wardrobe over Zoom.  It was all this big puzzle putting it together, and once you look at that board of storytelling and how we were going to do it, it kind of fell into place.  I feel blessed that a) we still had Michael with us, at that point, and b) Allison had the know-how to do this.  We all feel that at least this pandemic didn’t keep us from doing what we love.

Photo: AfterForever

In terms of the contribution of Michael Slade in this special, was it the construction of the story, and how was he able to work and write this during his illness?

KEVIN:  Michael’s contribution to the special was no less than the contribution to season 1 and season 2, and the future of season 3, because the scripts are written.  We did everything on Zoom, and we worked around his schedule of treatment.  We scheduled 2 people per day, and we spread them out over two weeks.  He was very present, and when there would be a day where he would say, “I’m going to be an hour late, let’s just push that call time,” I would ask, “Is this too much right now?  We can shelve it; we can stop it.” He’d then say, “Absolutely not, otherwise cancer will win.”  He was determined to stay focused and to stay active because it took his mind off of what was happening to him.

Photo: AfterForever

It would be lovely moment if you both were to win a Daytime Emmy for this project. 

KEVIN:  It’s our last collaboration together as a team, as I said, season 3 has been scripted, and it is on the calendar to get made.  We are just waiting for the COVID restrictions to lift a little bit and everyone to get vaccinated.  Michael was really hit hard with cancer – to stay healthy was so challenging for him.  Sadly, he didn’t make it to see the final edit of the special, and he died four days before we launched, but he had seen the cuts before that and was very approving of it, and had made some decisions, and offered some suggestions, and if God gives him an Emmy for this, it’s not because he died.  It’s because it’s great work.  It just happens to be that the work that was involved in this particular special was very tricky.  It brought up everything, like life itself to have to deal with.  Here we are dealing with the loss of a colleague, the loss of a friend, someone’s brother, someone’s son, this is life imitating art, imitating art imitating life. I can’t tell you the darkness that I went through just experiencing the need to stay focused on getting everything edited, and everything ready, and everything aligned for a release of this project that we had put into motion.  On top of it, our editor lost his mother just before Michael passed, and Allison’s mom was sick at the time, as well.  It took a lot of heavy deep breaths with Michael’s death, and the pandemic, and the loss has, for me, on a personal level, sent me back to really questioning my spiritual muscle and to help remind me that we have to come out of this better than we went into this.  I had many dark nights of the soul this last year, and December was probably the darkest.  I feel like I’m just kind of coming out of it now with the spring revealing itself.

Photo: AfterForever

It must have been extraordinarily difficult for you to also go to New York during a pandemic and also knowing Michael did not have much time left.

KEVIN:  I will say this: I am grateful that I was able to stay in touch with my heart and my instinct and go out to New York to let that be my remote location.  Yes, maybe there was some risk involved.  I wore my mask; I was Covid-19 negative, and I was determined to be fine.  Once I got to New York, I would visit him very protectively with our masks and our gloves, and I’d sit across the room, and then I’d go back to the house I was at.  It was a gift that I was able to see him at that time.  We had some good talks then about how he was feeling, and I think he was still being optimistic, and then once we got the project in the can there was maybe this psychic letting go. That’s when everything really started to reveal itself as this could be the end.  I did go back to see him when he was in hospice.  I think I was there the last two days that he really was able to really stay coherent.  He would close his eyes and be at peace and quiet for a minute, and he would finish a conversation and sort of close his eyes, not to sleep and not to go away, but I remember watching him going, “Look how peaceful he is,” and then he’d open his eyes and he’d remember that he is in this body that has been given a time limit of life, and he’s on his way out.  I’d watch the fear go back in his eyes.  At one point, he did say, “I’m so scared,” and I just held his hand, and I said, “I’m scared too.  Let’s be scared through this together.”  I don’t know how to navigate grief like that.  We are all going to be in a position at some point where we are going to be on the other side of the hand holding.  The wonderful thing is that we were able to have honest communication about our feelings.  I thanked him for everything that he has done for me and how he believed in my talent and creativity and our partnership.  I will always take that with me.  I waved my finger at him, and I said, “Listen.  Now, we wrote a series about a man talking to his deceased husband.  You’d better talk to me!”  So, we laughed about that.

Photo: AfterForever

You’ve done a lot of things in your career from Broadway to television, and of course, daytime fans know you best as Dr. Craig Wesley on DAYS.  How does the entire After Forever project stack up to you within all that you have done?

KEVIN:  Former DAYS casting director Fran Bascom, sought me out and offered me this 2-day role on Days of Our Lives, and those 2 days turned into 8 years, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the final 3 months of that contract of those 8 years, Michael Slade was brought in to write.  We didn’t cross paths at that point, but years later, when we did cross paths in New York, and then After Forever was born, that was that universal crossing point.  I am most proud of the fact that we were able create something fresh, and real, and personal to ourselves that we didn’t have to cater to any “powers that be” that had their vision and their tinkering, that they thought that it could be better in this way or that way.  Then for After Forever to gain such recognition, within the film festivals, and the Emmys, and then, just after Michael died, we won the GLAAD award for Special Recognition this year.  We don’t even fit into one of their categories!  They found a way to acknowledge this project.  If another Emmy happens again, that might be another one to put up on the shelf for After Forever that would be beautiful, and I couldn’t have done it without Michael.

For the Daytime Emmys this year, what category have you entered Riley’s Unforgettable School Project?

KEVIN:  We are not a series this year, we are a daytime fiction special, and the “Daytime Fiction Special” category is a special class.  It’s anything that’s digital in the construct of less than 40 minutes.  NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) is being bombarded with so much content, they’re trying to find ways to put categories together.

Photo: JPI

So, now, when we last saw Days of Lives’ Dr. Craig Wesley, where was he? (Laughs)

KEVIN: (Laughs) He was in a flash from the past or something in the DOOL app’s Last Blast Reunion series. I had a fun time working with Patrika Darbo (Nancy) and Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe), once again.

So, if they were to want Craig to come back to DAYS, would you be all for it?

KEVIN:  Hell yes!

Photo: JPI

Now, what story would you want to be told involving Craig? 

KEVIN:  When Craig was first on the canvas in Salem, there was a lot of mustache twirling and a lot of hand wringing.  He was always plotting; most of the time with Nancy.  It was kind of this high drama, evil villain storyline being told, but when the writers created an opportunity for us to be on after those first three months by bringing on Chloe without a father, there was something real about it.  It may have been told under the construct of soap opera storytelling, but there was a reality-based story about, “You have a daughter, and we are just now finding out about it?”  Then, finding a cure to her health was another realistic story, and finding out that Craig was her real father.  Anything that’s reality based is what I’m getting to.  I would welcome any job that brings me back and gives me an opportunity to dive into something real.

Photo: JPI

Would you welcome the opportunity to play a gay character on daytime; in a medium where there are very few represented in storylines?

KEVIN:  I’d have no problem with that.  Do you know anybody who is starting that?  Let’s do it!  (Laughs) First of all, there’s nothing to hide anymore.  There’s nothing to pretend you’re not anymore.  I would think that bringing in a storyline that deals with anything outside the norm that we are used to seeing would be interesting.  How many times can you retell a story?  How many times can you set the same story up with another couple?  So, why not be diverse and have a stylized story being told through the lens of a gay person.

Photo: AfterForever

In closing, so many go through life without acknowledging people who had an impact them.  We don’t give pats on the back, often enough, and especially in Hollywood, where people can be very self-involved.  You have already paid tribute to Michael Slade in our discussion, but what gift from him is your personal takeaway?

KEVIN:  The gift that Michael really gave to me is to remember to be kind to myself and to others, and to acknowledge and salute the person who is in front of us, because we don’t know when we will have, or if we will have, another moment to do that.

Now below, check out the trailer for Riley’s Unforgettable School Project.  Then let us know, what do you think of its concept? Kevin’s thoughts on the passing of his collaborator on the project, Michael Slade? And, do you hope DAYS brings back Dr. Craig Wesley? Share your thoughts via the comment section.

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Breaking News

REPORT: Dan Feuerriegel is DAYS New EJ DiMera

Could Days of our Lives finally found their new EJ? Rumors have been circulating on the internet for weeks that the character of EJ DiMera may finally have a new face and a new actor portraying and heading back to Salem, especially since Sami (Alison Sweeney) is back on the canvas.

The role was previously played by longtime fan favorite James Scott, who had made it very clear he would never return to Days of our Lives.

Photo: DFeuerriegelIG

Now according to Daytime Confidential and their report from setside sources, the new EJ will actually be played by former Spartacus actor Dan Feuerriegel.

The Australian-born actor has been seen in Starz’ Spartacus franchise in the role of Agron.

According to the report, look for the new EJ to make his debut sometime this summer.

DAYS fans know that in story, EJ was brought back form the dead, from the serum from Dr. Rolf, but then was injured in an explosion and had reunited with Sami and had been recovery in Europe.

So, if this reports turns out to be true, what do you think of the new EJ? Comment below.

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Y&R’s Joshua Morrow, Amelie Heinle, Mark Grossman, Hunter King and Melissa Ordway chat with Michael Fairman about being a part of and portraying the Newman Children as the show celebrates its 48th anniversary.Leave A Comment

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