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Eileen Davidson Talks On The Rebirth Of Y&R’s Ashley, And Those Heartbreaking Scenes As DAYS Susan!

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

On CBS’ The Young and the Restless, Eileen Davidson’s Ashley Abbott is back in the thick of things, and all the juicy drama, now that the citizens of Genoa City have learned she is not the bio-daughter of the respected and beloved, late John Abbott.

Ashley is now trying to reconcile her feelings for her once MIA mother, Dina Mergeron (Marla Adams), who has come back to town, and in the process caused all sorts of havoc for her daughter’s life.  However, what Ashley, and her brother, Jack (Peter Bergman) and the rest of the family soon found out is that Dina is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, as the top-rated series explores the harrowing effects of this condition not only on the person going through it, but their loved ones.

To say 2017 has been a banner year for Davidson on the daytime soaps is an understatement. Not only has she been turning in powerful performances as Y&R’s Ashley, but soap fans just saw her wild and successful return on Days of our Lives as Susan Banks – the one of a kind character she first portrayed back in the late 1990’s on the NBC daytime drama series.  Only this time, viewers got to see all the colors of the character from hilarious, to sad, tragic, and deeply tormented. While Eileen has been uber-busy on the soaps this year, she also made the decision to discontinue appearing as part of the cast of the hit reality series, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Davidson to get her thoughts on: all those high stakes scenes of Ashley and Susan’s, what viewers can expect as Ashley’s conflicts and empowerment continues on Y&R moving through December into 2018, and much more.  Here’s what this all-star had to say about it all!

A few months back while Ashley was being honored with the Innovator of the Year Award in the cosmetics world, her long held secret became public.  She is the biological daughter of Brent Davis, and not John Abbott.  Ashley also figured out that Graham (Max Shippee) had an agenda in all of this to bring her and her family down.  This secret was held on to for so long on Y&R.  Did you remember who knew the secret, and who didn’t?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN:  Yes.  I remember Victor (Eric Braeden) knew, and Jack (Peter Bergman) had found out, and that was it.

Those scenes where Ashley confronted Graham at the awards dinner were so intense, and then later how devastated she was after her mother blurted out the truth that Brent Davis was her real father.  What did you think of how the drama played out after so many years had passed?

EILEEN:  I thought it was great.  I wanted to play that beat through the years, and it was never fully fleshed out.  Whenever a new writer would come on-board, I would say, “By the way, this is kind of just laying there for all of these years, and I think it is a really important part of the family dynamic, and could be used in such a stellar way.” I was really happy they decided to go with it.  Sally Sussman (Ex-head writer, Y&R) started it, and then Mal Young (Current head writer and EP, Y&R) took it over.

At the end of the debacle, Ashley was alone with Jack at the Abbott home.  A sad Ashley said, “One good thing is that daddy died believing I was his daughter.”  That said in deference to the man that she loved and raised her as her father, the late John Abbott.

EILEEN:  She holds John in her heart forever as her father, and she never wanted to hurt him.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

How has it been having Marla Adams back on the canvas, and working with her again?

EILEEN:  It has been really fun to sort of mine this whole story, and then to go forward with the Alzheimer’s storyline. I think that is very timely and very reminiscent of what Y&R has been about in terms of doing topical stories through the years.

How does Ashley feel about this whole situation now?  Does she still loathe her mother?

EILEEN:  I think it’s easier to have feelings of not hatred, but certainly a betrayal.  Dina made a promise to Ashley that the secret would never come out, but it’s easier to have those feelings and to hold on to them when you don’t have a parent that is struggling with Alzheimer’s.  You can’t really blame them when you have all the information.  I guess that changes the dynamic now that Ashley knows her mother has Alzheimer’s.

Ashley seems to have many opposing views with Jack on just about everything at this point!

EILEEN:  Yes, and coming up there is going to be a lot more of that.  It’s a very multi-layered story.  It’s not just Dina’s Alzheimer’s, but what is does to the family members.  In the case of the Abbott family, it affects the business dynamic, as well.

We are seeing Ashley now exerting her power again.  It’s nice to see her in the driver’s seat.  She recently let Gloria (Judith Chapman) have it that she is back in charge at the office, and Ash is having sex with Ravi (Abhi Sinha).

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN:  I think this whole situation with Dina’s Alzheimer’s has made her look at her own life and kind of made it about showing how to seize the day, and how to kind of do all the things she has kind of rationalized not to do, or taken the time to do.  Maybe, she is not thinking that Ravi is going to be her husband, but she sees this person who cares about her and who she cares about, and it’s like, “Why not?”  It’s the same thing for her in business. For a very long time she has always questioned Jack’s judgment, and him stepping away from the business.  Although it’s a compassionate choice, it’s not necessarily the smartest choice.  So again, Ashley sees it as bad decision-making on his part.

The holidays are going to be a struggle for the Abbotts. After all, Dina did abandon all of the children and the family when she left Genoa City many years ago.  I would think those are complicated feelings for Ashley, Jack, and Traci (Beth Maitland) to deal with?

EILEEN:  Well it is, but again, you have the Alzheimer’s component to this now, so you can’t really judge Dina on things that happened years, and years, and years ago.  In this situation, if you are trying to get retribution and trying to make her pay, there is just not that much in that kind of reward.  What joy do you get out of that?  You feel like you are torturing a sick woman.

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Where does Ashley stand with her daughter, Abby’s (Melissa Ordway) recent choices, and what has happened to her with Zack (Ryan Ashton) and now Scott (Daniel Hall) romantically? Wasn’t Ashley always meddling into her daughter’s personal life? (Laughs) Remember Ben?! (Sean Carrigan).

EILEEN:  She used to meddle, but now Ashley is really trying not to do that. (Laughs)

With Mal Young now head writer at Y&R, how do you like the scripts and what you are seeing?  You are such an iconic part of Y&R, and have been through many writing regime changes over the years, so I think you would have an interesting perspective.

EILEEN:  I think the Abbotts are now front and center.  I know Mal writes quite a few of the scripts himself, because of how personal this Alzheimer’s story is to him. When he does that, he kind of wants to shine a spotlight on that character of Dina and that storyline. We’re seeing a lot of standalone episodes that are quite dramatic, and even though they are integrated into the storyline, they have that standalone quality to them.  So that’s nice, because a lot of the actors are feeling that they are getting to show their talent.  I certainly feel that way

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Which is great, because you and I have talked over the years about how your ardent, loyal, and passionate fans, who love Ashley, are always saying, “Yeah we love her, but where is her story?”  What I have liked on Y&R over the last half of the year is they showcased you.  It’s hard when you are there and they are not utilizing you, from the audience vantage point, and I can imagine from your point of view, too. This feels really good now, would you agree?

EILEEN:  Yes, I would absolutely agree!

Days of our Lives viewers just witnessed a few weeks ago your performance as Susan Banks, which was absolutely a brilliant piece of work.  It was just beyond thrilling to see you inhabit that character once again with the complexity of the humor, and the absolute devastating torment and sadness that is running through her, when she was revealed to be the one who kidnapped Will Horton (Chandler Massey).

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN: Thank you!  I have to say it was one of the most intense things for me, because from the minute I first spoke to Ron Carlivati (head writer, DAYS), I said, “I wish she had gotten to be grounded in reality. You can’t play this character just for laughs.  It’s a very tragic situation.”  It was a very fine line and challenging, and a large part of the reason I wanted to do it was to kind of show different notes I wanted to play as an actress that I don’t get to play that often.  That is this kind of surreal humor, and then just gut-wrenching tragedy.  Susan has had a very tragic life.  So, to be able to play both those things in the scenes was pretty amazing – the humor and the tragedy. I thought it made it very compelling for me.

When Susan had her breakdown, I literally watched that episode and wept my eyes out.  At the recent Days of Days event at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, NBC premiered their November sneak preview for DAYS up on the Jumbotron in front of the fans in attendance. Being there in real-time, while everyone watched it on the big screen, it was revealed that you were going to be playing, for a beat, Kristen DiMera, when Kristen lets out this diabolical laugh.  Seeing the audiences’ reaction, and how they react to you and the characters you portray on DAYS was an unbelievable experience.  There were just audible gasps and excitement when they saw those characters come to life.  It was a real rock-star moment, Eileen!

EILEEN:  Wow!  That is so nice to hear.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

You had a very tight time constraint to film your return as Susan on DAYS, correct?

EILEEN:  I would shoot at DAYS on Mondays, while doing Y&R the rest of the week, because we are dark on Mondays here.

During the time you were taping DAYS and Y&R at the same time, what was that like for you going home at night and bouncing from learning Ashley’s lines to Susan’s lines, and keeping everything straight in your head, when things were so hectic in your shooting schedule?

EILEEN:  It is not any problem at all to go from one character to the next.  The writing is completely different, and the characters are completely different.  I am actress, and so it’s a gift to be able to do and play different things.

When you got to play Susan’s sis, Sister Mary Moira again for a small beat, what did you think of that opportunity, let alone playing Susan again for that very important arc?

EILEEN:  I was thrilled!  I was so excited.  With Susan, I think a lot of people don’t like it and they are going, “What. Is. This?” (Laughs)  They don’t get it, and I have always known that, and it just doesn’t matter to me.  People love Susan, or they hate her.  They may not get it, and that’s fine.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Now back full-time at Y&R, what are your hopes’s for Ashley moving forward?  Do you want her to finally find the man of her dreams? Do you care at this point? (Laughs)

EILEEN:  I think that would be something she has obviously not had in a very long time. (Laughs)  And again, depending on how it’s approached, it could be awesome.  It would be nice for her to find love again, whatever that looks like and at this point in her life, and with her trust issues with that.  In addition to seeing her struggle with it being her age, and not having found true love yet.  It’s another one of those things with the history of the character that provides a rich mining opportunity for the show.  But right now, Ashley has got her hands so full that it would just depend on how it’s integrated into the story.

What have you thought about Max Shippee’s portrayal of Graham, and the dynamic between the two of you?

EILEEN: Obviously, that is now her great nemesis, and that has been another layer that has been fun to play.

Many are talking about you being a major contender this year for Lead Actress for the Daytime Emmys.  You have had strong material on both Days of our Lives, and The Young and the Restless.  Any thoughts of what you will submit?  Will you throw your name in the hat?  You should!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN:  I am really bad at this whole Emmy submission thing.  I feel like I am running for President, or something, or Queen of the Prom. (Laughs)  I feel really weird about it.  I am not good at picking material. I then might end up probably not picking my best work, because I would get so frustrated and go, “Oh, God. Whatever! (Laughs) I will pick this.”

But wait a minute … you won Lead Actress before.  Therefore, you must be doing something right!

EILEEN:  That was an easy submission that year.  I was only on DAYS that year, and I knew I had two specific shows that I knew would be great submissions, and they were chronological in their order.  I knew it was either going to be the ones with Deidre Hall (Marlena, DAYS) in them, or the ones with Eric Martsolf (Brady, DAYS).

2017 also saw you make the decision to depart the cast of the hit reality show franchise, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  How did that decision come about for you?

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

EILEEN:  At the end of the day, I was shooting my husband’s movie, working at Y&R, and taping DAYS on Mondays. It was pretty untenable to think about trying to get out to shoot ‘Housewives’ after work, and it was never super easy. I had to ask a lot of favors of Y&R, and it was just really, really tricky.  But now that Mal Young took over, I am actually spending a lot more time at work, and so it really would have been impossible to do ‘Housewives’ at the same time.  A lot about my decision was the scheduling, and ‘Housewives’ being a stressful gig.  I don’t know if I could have handled that stress with all I have to do now.

In closing, what can you tease for Y&R viewers to look for in the coming weeks with what is going on in the life of Ashley Abbott?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

EILEEN:  You will see more Ashley in the business world, and more on the Alzheimer’s storyline. Ashley is definitely going to fight for her mother, and she is definitely going to fight for what she thinks is best.

So, what are your hopes for Ashley as we move into the New Year? Do you think Ashley will be there 100% for her mother throughout her ordeal? Which man on the canvas would you like to see her become romantically link, if not Ravi?

What did you think of Eileen’s performance as Susan on DAYS and Ashley on Y&R? Would you say she is a frontrunner for a Lead Actress nomination in the upcoming 45th Annual Daytime Emmys race? Comment below.

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Kim
Guest
Kim

Correction: Victor, Katherine, Dina, Jack and Jill all knew the secret that Brent was Ashley’s father.

Fox
Guest
Fox

True, and they’ve probably forgotten this, but Victor actually told Nikki in confidence when he had Ashley move to The Ranch for awhile after her nervous breakdown over her paternity. And later, Kay told Brock, because she asked him to counsel Ashley about making amends with Brent before he died, which she ended up doing on his death bed at the hospital. And finally, Ashley’s step-brother, Rafael Delgado, and husband, Cole Howard, knew. Brent had told Rafael, and Cole found out during the 1998-99 art forgery storyline involving Rafael and Ashley.

Iakovos
Guest
Iakovos

I heart Ms. Davidson! Am so glad to have Ashley Abbott more prominent on Y&R. I have enjoyed this actor and this series for 30-plus years now, through thick and thin. It is because of the people.

Ray
Guest
Ray

People will always remember Elizabeth Hubbard, Susan Lucci, Erica Slezak and Kim Zimmer as the top actresses in daytime history. After watching Eileen on DOOL as Susan Banks, her name should be included in that list. I was not excited to hear she would be playing Susan again. In the past, I thought it was too one-dimensional and played for laughs. But the storyline with Will was AMAZING. I do not know which category she should submit, but her work should be rewarded. I am not sure the show will ever be as good as it has been with the… Read more »

Jake
Guest
Jake

Beverlee Mckinsey needs to be on this list; there www no one better

Michael (not Fairman)
Guest
Michael (not Fairman)

As does Susan Flannery.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Great call, Jake. I loved BK as Iris on “Another World” and “Texas” and also as Alexandra. Who could forget her scenes with Mac Cory and also when she found out about Roger’s affair with Mindy? I would also add Julia Barr and Colleen Zenk to the list.

JK
Guest
JK

Beverlee McKinsey AND Victoria Wyndham from Another World. Truly amazing actresses.

su0000
Guest
su0000

Michael Fairman—
You are the best of the best of interviewers !!! two thumbs up!

That’s all I have to say as I’m not an Ashely fan ..

Terry Wright
Guest
Terry Wright

I think Eileen is great on Y&R over the years but I think she shines on Days of our Lives. On Days she really shows her acting talents. If it was my decision I would rather see her on Days than Y&R. Eileen will do fantastic at whatever she decides to do.

Bradley
Guest
Bradley

Eileen Davidson has always been a wonderful actress. Her work recently on Y&R has been stellar, outstanding. Ms. Davidson has always and continues to be one of the most beautiful women on daytime TV. Thank you for the outstanding article!

Freeman Griffin
Guest
Freeman Griffin

Eileen Davidson is absolutely one of my five nominees for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, along with Deidre Hall and Arianne Zucker for Days, Rena Sofer for B&B, and Maura West for GH. I would be very happy for any of those five actresses to win the Emmy this year. My pick would be Deidre Hall for her work as Marlena and Hattie, but any of those five would be deserving. I loved her work as Susan but there are five other actress who I feel are more deserving: Marla Adams and Camryn Grimes for Y&R, Judi Evans, Lauren… Read more »

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

Well, Eileen didnt really share any inside scope to what lies ahead on Y&R. One thing I find interesting is she was asked a question about Max Shippee’s portrayal of Graham and she totally avoided the question! Wow, maybe she was less than impressed with him like several viewers were?

JK
Guest
JK

She also avoided what it is like to work with Marla Adams again. To be honest, I was disappointed she didn’t use the opportunity to credit the work of her colleagues.

Gia
Guest
Gia

Excellent performances by Eileen Davidson and Peter Bergman!!! Wow!

Jack apparently has been holding the Ashley issue for awhile when he blurted out that she was not John Abbotts child! That tea kettle apparently has been simmering regarding Ashley way too long. I like that Ashley is stepping out from shadows. Now if she can only resolve the problem with Ravi, which may be too late. She seems to take Ravi out of the box when needed and puts him back into the box and on the shelf when she is done.

Phil
Guest
Phil

Love, love, love Eileen Davidson! Kristen is my favorite character she plays! I wish she were on my screen full-time! Hope she returns again soon!

Dinah Anderson
Guest
Dinah Anderson

Wow great interview with Eileen Michael

ALEXA
Guest
ALEXA

I would love for Simon Neville to return to GC and sweep Ashley off her feet! They had fantastic chemistry on Y&R and it was so ridiculous for him to have been sidelined! He was a wonderful character and he was immediately accepted as a “keeper” by most of the fans… Ashley deserves to be in love AND loved and I truly think that Neville is the man for the job!! The actor was terrific, very handsome and he had great hair! What is the show waiting for- he and Ashlry were magic together

Fanny
Guest
Fanny

What a lovely woman, inside and out.

blake
Guest
blake

I love Eileen when she’s on Days of Our Lives. I don’t care who she is playing, but I would really love for Kristen to come back for stints. I believe the only Emmy she has won has been for playing Kristen on DOOL a few years ago, thank goodness!

Harry
Guest
Harry

Thank you for this lovely interview. Mr Fairman always delivers the best interviews because he has a genuine love for the subject matter. Eileen Davidson is a gem of an actress. I don’t always like Ashley but perhaps that only highlights just how talented of an actress she is. Because, see? In real life one seldom likes a person all of the time even if they love that person. The Dina Alzheimer’s story is being delivered tenderly and carefully while adhering to Abbott family history. Jack was really touching trying to deck the halls with boughs of holly while his… Read more »

rc
Guest
rc

Eileen should definitely submit her performance as Susan Banks from DAYS. The final scene in the bar when Susan has her breakdown with Sami, Marlena, etc. is the BEST! It was truly a tear jerker, which is a true testament for soaps.

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.

 

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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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