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Days Of Our Lives

RATINGS: Days of our Lives Struggles, While All Soaps Down In Key Demos!

Courtesy/NBC

Courtesy/NBC

The ratings are out for the week of February 22nd through the 26th and it was not a good week for NBC’s Days of our Lives.  The series which had a nice uptick in total viewers during its 50th anniversary run of stories from late October 2015 through early January 2016 following Daniel’s  (Shawn Christian) death on New Year’s Eve is struggling of late.

In total viewers for the new ratings period, DAYS averaged 2,353,000.  That is -81,000 from the previous week and -69,000 from the same time last year. The series also tied its lowest rating share of all-time for the second week in a row in the womens 18-34 category, 0.32 (-.02/-.05)

The only daytime drama to add total viewers in this new ratings period was General Hospital.  The lone ABC soap added +26,000 bringing its weekly total to 2,968,000.  However, GH as well as Y&R, B&B, and DAYS are down across the board in all key female demo categories: 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.   Breaking it down even further, GH lost the most viewers in the 18-49 and 18-34 demo, while B&B lost the most viewers in the 25-54 category.

The juggernaut that is The Young and the Restless still holds firmly to the number one spot with just under 5 million in average total viewers for the week at 4,967,000, while its sister soap The Bold and the Beautiful also continues to maintain its number two spot with 3,766,000.   View the entire ratings picture courtesy of SON here.

Numbers are based on Live+Same Day ratings

(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

Total Viewers
1. Y&R 4,967,000 (-21,000/-399,000)
2. B&B 3,766,000 (-29,000/-280,000)
3. GH 2,968,000 (+26,000/-221,000)
4. DAYS 2,353,000 (-81,000/-69,000)

So, what do you think about the latest ratings picture?  What do you think should be done on your favorite soap so that more viewers till tune-in instead of tune-out?  Which daytime drama is working best? Which needs some help? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

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AJQ
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AJQ

GH is where it is, there has been no measurable or notable difference the past few weeks. The numbers are down significantly from this time last year in total viewers and demos. Down below 500,000 in 18-49 at 495,000, it was 620,000 last year. 460,000 18-49 numbers are what got RC fired and that was June & July when the numbers would be lower than Feb sweeps. GH has it’s audience that will watch Julian and Julexis and Franco the funny hero who loves kids and who feels all paternal and squishy with Kiki. Last week was a week that… Read more »

Patrick
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Patrick

I really do see… a FEATURE and MARQUEE value… in; Tracy and Anna Tracy: it’s something to instantly tear up ; well up; and cry spot on for Ms. Tracy she went down with guns blazing… firing at will… let me point out… that fans have roared… that they want more stories centered in and around General “HOSPITAL” well.. we are certainly getting their; let’s start by the wondrous and ooh la la tantalize.. with Dr. Griffin Munro ; and back in the thick of things… Michael Easton so… you add in 3 generations of ; hospital care heightened Tracy;… Read more »

jacque
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jacque

Great Post.

Harry 1
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Harry 1

I don’t have much to add to AJQ’s insightful and spot on post nor can I add much to Patrick’s earnestly hopeful one. All I can say is that after Sonny jumped up from that wheelchair, production had to make use of the wheelchair investment, hence, Kiki is paralyzed. Good Lord, really? This is the best they can do? Alexis and Julian are all about sex–there is no romantic tension, nothing which tugs at the ole heart strings. And sorry, but Jason and Sam are a snooze fest. No wonder Kelly is mumbling more than usual–she is falling asleep in… Read more »

Harry 1
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Harry 1

PS. Patrick, the other day Maxie told Nina to get a second opinion about whether she can have a baby or not. She was told by Brit that she could not have a baby because she had gone through menopause while in a coma.
Maxie said that seeing it was Britt who made this statement, she could hardly trust it.
Gee, could it be that fifty something Nina really cannot conceive a child at this post menopausal stage of life?
Honestly, if they make Nina get pregnant I will be beyond irritated.

Tristan
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Tristan

Superb post.

Iakovos
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Iakovos

Your post is well written and spot on. Thank you.

maddiehayes
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maddiehayes

I quit watching GH two weeks ago when it became clear to me that romance is no longer a priority on this show. Nathan&Maxie were promoted to have a marriage proposal, but what did we get? ‘Let’s shack up’. Lulu&Dante .. does anybody really want them back together after everything that’s gone down between them this past year? Not right away, that’s for sure! Alexis&Julian .. I’m sorry, but I cannot stand GH’s sorry attempt at whitewashing this scum. Nor do I buy Sonny as the ‘hero’. Then there’s Jason&Sam .. they are not a couple, they are a ship… Read more »

Harry 1
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Harry 1

Maddie, I know, right? I come home after a long hard day at work and check out GH on the DVR. I find myself fast forwarding through the entire episode. I see a sea swell of faces I don’t care about–Sonny, Morgan, Carly, Nina, Franco, Ava, Paul, Jordan, Alexis and Julian and I find myself eventually giving up and pushing delete. There are times when I see flashes of faces which give me and the fast forward button pause–these faces are Mac, Felicia, Laura, Anna and Robert. But those faces are incredibly fleeting–I think of that line from Keats’ “Fled… Read more »

Elle
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Elle

Yes, I love the truth in this post!

Dan
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Dan

AJQ, I write this with respect. You always have a lot to say about GH, most of which to be perfectly honest, I don’t agree with. Which is fine, rational adults can disagree without being disagreeable. I do respect your passion for the show and your desire to see it be better. So a serious question. I’m very curious, as the long time viewer that you are, if someone handed you the reigns of GH tomorrow, what would you do to fix the show and get the ratings back up to where you feel they need to be?

AJQ
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AJQ

Dan, very simply I would write and produce a show that appealed to longtime General Hospital fans because they are the best bet for a larger and more consistent audience in the 18-49 demo. Fans who were teenagers, college students, twenty somethings, in the 90’s & early 2000’s are currently in that demo. They would watch a show with characters, families and actors that they know and love, that they remember fondly. This experiment of new characters and “superstars” from other soaps has brought no ratings. Julian’s wedding to Alexis, Kiki shot, Ava’s guilt and five straight days of Franco,… Read more »

Shay
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Shay

@AJQ….Once again, thank you for saying it so I don’t have to…..I’m bored to tears with GH and am nearly at a loss for words in trying to express my utter disdain for the stubborn reluctance to fix what you so clearly state as the ongoing problems with this show. (Save for the Michael Easton sentiments, which seem to be the only place we part company…..) How many more times do any of us have to spell out the issues we have with this soap??? They’ve been succinctly and well-put so often here that I’ve long lost count, and yet,… Read more »

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

Better writers…but they seem to be gone with the phone booth…we cant keep having gloom and doom every week…too much Dark Days…GH is slightly better…barely any characters to cheer for…almost everyone is a villian…teen Joey kills Ava, Chase rapes Ciara, Hope is a murderer, a drunk Erik killed someone, looney Summer-a snooze, a looney Ben escapes and will kidnap Abigail, Jen doing drugs, Nicole grieves Danials death suddenly seems ready to play teeter totter on Dario, Deimos may be responsible for Bo’s death…no light at the end of the tunnel…its like these few surviving shows are deliberately driving viewers away… Read more »

Amy
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Amy

You said a mouthful. All true.

maddiehayes
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maddiehayes

I quite agree, Jimh, I’m almost ready to throw in the towel on DAYS as well. As I commented above to AJQ, soaps need romance to survive. That is why women tune in. The couples. Not the couples murdering somebody, or being blackmailed into having sex with psychopaths. In the ’80s, DAYS, like GH, had a winning formula of slowburn love stories combined with romantic adventures that kept the couples together without getting boring. When they had a winning pair, they did not say .. okay, they’ve been together a week now, that’s enough, let’s try a different pairing now.… Read more »

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

Im a guy and i want a little romance in my afternoon too…

Tay
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Tay

I know there has been a lot of people unhappy with the “doom and gloom” stories on Days, but the last few months have drawn me back in. Legacy characters and characters with ties to legacy characters are where it’s at. Sure the Steve & Kayla story lines could be even better… but having Kayla Brady and her love back on canvas is a win for the show. I agree they should have brought Sarah or Melissa Horton back instead of this Summer crap. Also, use your gay storyline and God forbid… actually have a lesbian story at the same… Read more »

Ces
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Ces

Days is where it should be. Its all about hype then falls flat. I love GH!! Back to watching my one show.

su0000
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su0000

S0 sad..
” GH lost the most viewers in the 18-49 and 18-34 demo”
GH is going to go down more in upcoming ratings..

Y&R has been very good.. Anyways, I have been entertained and enjoying Y&R..

Sorta not not good for Days and GH being down during February sweeps month..

(( If you love your soap and really look forward to seeing it and are enjoying watching your soap, then to heck with the numbers, just enjoy !!

susan blackman
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susan blackman

They need to bring Days out of the dark an into the light.An where is the love an romance that Days is sorely lacking

maddiehayes
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maddiehayes

That’s it in a nutshell, Susan

robert
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robert

even with all the action last week,GH’s ratings still didn’t rise much. they are focusing too much on newbies. not surprised about Days going down,the show is not in very good shape,it is way too dark. Y&R has been watchable,their still strong at around 5 million

Layla Kalich
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Layla Kalich

GH is focusing too much on newbies because they keep casting new people, it seems like almost weekly they have a casting call for someone new, that will have about 10 minutes of airtime a month. I really don’t know how the writers can keep up with all the different characters.

Rose
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Rose

If our soaps are supposed to bring viewers an escape, romance and adventure, even mystery and intrigue, none of them are doing a very good job. I might as well be picking up on the angst from the daily news, or for some, be more distracted by the other “entertainment” going on in the country right now.

Maxie1215
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Maxie1215

Days has lost any sense of morality. Will’s death symbolized it. It was written by hateful and cruel and homophobic writers who assumed the audience was hateful, cruel and homophobic and would enjoy his death. Every single story since Will’s death has reflected that amorality and nastiness and presumption of nastiness in the audience. I don’t if the small – and it was relatively small – ratings boost even had anything to do with all the death and “excitement”. I think it was more about the publicity and the promise of the 50th. If Days had written stories of love,… Read more »

Kaylie15
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Kaylie15

NBC should have canceled Days and just shown a test pattern.

Stephen
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Stephen

NBC have brought discredit to themselves with their silence on the horrific homophobic pander, and their pro-active praising of the show. In 2011, the head of NBC Entertainment, Robert Greenblatt himself won a GLAAD award – the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is presented to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who “has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community.” An Robert Greenblatt is the man with overall responsibility for daytime scripted broadcasting, ie. Days of Our Lives. He needs to step up now, and stop resting on his laurels, and earn them!… Read more »

Kaylie15
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Kaylie15

Well said, Stephen. The killing of Will wasn’t just any “mistake” and plenty of fans recognized that. It was a hate pander, pure and simple, and they could bring Will back tomorrow and make everything a dream and it still wouldn’t change that. They are absolute moral cowards first for the way Will was killed off, and then the way they have stuck their pathetic heads in the sand and tried to pretend that we didn’t see what we saw. It’s public relations 101 – when you make a huge mistake, take responsibility and apologize. Of course, most industries don’… Read more »

kiki
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kiki

There’s a potential huge audience for soaps, but it just isn’t there at a specific time during the day. Teenagers find the idea of scheduling time for a show absurd, when they can get what they want when they want on youtube. People into these stories will watch pirated youtube clips from work rather than wait to DVR them, and that isn’t a bad thing it’s a good thing. It’s just that it doesn’t fit with the old, moldy revenue model. In the UK, soaps are released online when they broadcast. If any of the soaps did that, it would… Read more »

RichInIowa
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RichInIowa

Excellent critique, kiki, and it makes me sad (and angry) to agree with you, since Days was my favorite of the four until the gay-bashing murder of Will. And I had been watching it for decades so it wasn’t “gay-fad” watching like some will insinuate. I never thought it could get worse, but it has actually continued its vile storytelling! I’m very close to leaving like I did GH after decades of being a devoted fan (and will never go back), so maybe this will give TWO extra hours a day to do something more interesting in my life.

H.D.
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H.D.

I agree as well. I have a small circle of friends who all watched Days – mostly via DVR and online – and they have all stopped watching. We laughed and rolled our eyes through the elephant story but starting with Will’s obviously homophobic death, one by one they dropped off. The last straw for the last watcher standing was Chase raping Ciara. It’s just sick. As the mother of a gay son and longtime watcher, I stopped with Will’s death and I won’t go back. The new writer may be gay, but unless they admit to what they did,… Read more »

kiki
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kiki

I have two teenage girls, and they devour Korean soap operas on Netflix and Youtube. The only story that they ever showed any interest in on Days was the Will/Sonny/Paul triangle, and they watched it not with mom but on Youtube. We aren’t Asian, either, it’s just the Korea soaps offer a kind of melodrama that appeals to them that none of the American soaps manage to do.

Debbie Babashak
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Debbie Babashak

You have to keep the characters constant. We don’t get to really know them before they’re killed off. We’re always wondering which long time character will be the next to leave and that’s not suspense, it’s misery. I’m not interested in a storyline about a bunch of teens. I’ve watched the show for too many years to resort to that. If you need to give them major storylines then send the right message regarding rape, etc. let these kids know how important it is to trust their parents. The storylines are just getting so ridiculous. We have enough crazy stuff… Read more »

Mary SF
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Mary SF

Days– each of their dark stories by themselves would have been okay, it was because they did one right after the another that it got a bit too much for daytime and that is the key, daytime is different than prime time. If in August the new writing team wants to pull a Dallas and make the whole last year a dream that would be fine by me. Usually Days has the best Feb sweeps, but this year they were dead last, no pun intended. GH– it is very uneven these days, when it is good it is very good… Read more »

Rose
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Rose

Mary SF…good summary!

Peter K.
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Peter K.

A dream is probably Days’s only shot at survival. Griffith & Higley didn’t want to save the show they wanted to destroy everything that TomSell did, especially what was working. Hope/Aiden and Will/Sonny/Paul were the stories that viewers actually seemed to enjoy and engage with and they destroyed them. Killing Will so maliciously and with pride that they were pandering to those who hated having a gay character was just disgusting, but what was done to Aiden and then Chase was equally disgusting. I’m not exaggerating either. I felt true disgust when those stories unfolded. I’ve never felt that way… Read more »

Mo
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Mo

Of course Days has been struggling. The writing and the acting has been bad. I can’t believe I’m still watching.

Allen saint james
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Allen saint james

Watched clips of gh during its adventure days yesterday and just and was reminded of the unity the characters shared. There was always a big common threat the good guys would take care of. Bring back the adventure!!! It’s not just about bringing legacy characters back it’s about giving the show a dose of what made it special in the 1st place. It’s so normal now.

Tristan
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Tristan

AJQ’s post — above — is brilliant and absolutely on point. Sweeps was Julexis, the Corinthi, and the mob/arms deals. There are a lot of us who do not want to see this rehash of the kind of emphasis that has consistently tanked GH. Last Friday was Morgan and Sonny day, and a huge ratings loss. There is a message being sent to TPTB of GH by viewers. TPTB need to take us seriously. As has been proven time and again, healthy ratings will never result from Corinthi 24/7, mob action, and over-hyped, one-dimensional pairings like Julexis. This isn’t rocket… Read more »

su0000
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su0000

hi Tristan .. The mob you are referring to was very short lived one day, one day, of sweeps action with the purpose to fill hospital beds to give hospital stories .. The gun story was NOT about the mob.. It was to put Morgan into the situation he is in. It was to have Kiki shot to give Ava a story It was to make Paul a sorta good guy It was to have Sonny walk out of his wheelchair.. It was to HAVE Dante save Lulu That one day of mob action on the dock was not about… Read more »

CeeCee
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CeeCee

Agreed, su; purpose, action and consequence: writing tools.
True compendium.

Llanviewer717
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Llanviewer717

I certainly understand why Days is losing viewers. TPTB had made multiple boneheaded moves: 1. The boring elephant statue story they gave Melissa Archer. 2. The one note character they gave Kassie DePaiva. Kassie and Melissa are very talented, compelling actresses who can carry complex stories. Both deserved better stories to tell. Please don’t make the same mistake by wasting the talent of John Paul Lavoisier and Vincent Irizarry. 3. Destroying Will and Sonny. Yes, Freddie Smith decided to leave and no one liked Guy Wilson. If you didn’t want to recast, you could have a least sent them off… Read more »

Stephen
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Stephen

Llanviewer I think you make some good points, but please, many people really *do* like Guy Wilson as Will, and have done so from his debut. We can say that Guy has been a controversial recast, for sure. When I look at comments from the time of his debut, I see both many people who really like him, and many that really don’t – and some fiery arguments between people holding opposite views! I don’t care for the nastiness that is common in some of these exchanges, and I wish that people would accept that their response to any actor… Read more »

kiki
Guest
kiki

I loved Guy Wilson as Will, and I’ve been bewildered at the viciousness towards him. It’s ugly and its mean and it speaks very ill of certain fans. Guy Wilson had plenty of fans, who were derided, bullied and shouted down by haters who didn’t represent the majority, I am one of the “nobodies” who you dismiss and insult out of hand. My children loved Guy – and they are not nobody either. I highly suggest you open your mind because there would not have bene an outcry against the death of Will had he not still been a beloved… Read more »

CeeCee
Guest
CeeCee

Whatever happened to the rumblings that Will was coming back? I would love for the Sonny/Will love story to resume.

Llanviewer717
Guest
Llanviewer717

Thank you Stephen and kiki for pointing out my very poor choice of words. I should not have generalized; but, I did read dozens of posts from viewer who were dissatisfied with Guy’s performance. Personally, I thought he did a great job and was very sorry to see him go from the show. I wish Guy nothing but the very best in his future career.

Peter K.
Guest
Peter K.

I liked Guy Wilson better than I liked Chandler Massey. One was overrated and one was underrated and both are a thousand miles better than pretty much anyone on the show now. However, there’s little doubt Guy Wilson was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by some insane Massey stalkers and then was the victim of the double standard that queer characters are always held to. Personally, I thought there was tremendous potential in a Will and Paul pairing – and their chemistry was better than Will and Sonny by far. Moreover, the show’s current attempt to use Paul… Read more »

blake
Guest
blake

Spot on! And what kills me about the park is how they will be there late at night.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

I like Guy’s Will. I think he brought a lot of charm and likability to the role, and I really miss him!

Jim Preston
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Jim Preston

I also agree about Fake Leaf Park, good grief everything happens in that stupid park. Invest please in a new set. The storyline(s) over the past 3 months have been tedious to endure. I literally throw the show on and go iron one of my lab coats for work or something (honestly) – if I were to lay down on the couch and put the show on I know I would surely fall asleep. They should NEVER have Killed off Will by strangulation. Why couldn’t he just be sent out on assignment out of town? If the actor who portrays… Read more »

kiki
Guest
kiki

Well, my girls tell me there is a rumored video of an actor (not Freddie Smith) bragging that when Guy Wilson refused to sign up for selling a certain anti-aging product, that there was a concerted effort by sales teams to trash him online. I’ve not seen it. Of course, teenagers and rumors go together, but it would not shock me if that were the case.

Kaylie15
Guest
Kaylie15

Days in its current form is exactly what happens if you hire writers who live in an echo chamber of hatred and presume nothing but hatefulness of the audience. Alas, much of online culture rewards cruelty and group think.

Diane
Guest
Diane

I honestly couldn’t care less what the ratings say, the week of GH that these ratings reflect was one of the best weeks show quality wise that they’ve had in quite a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I know many others did as well. The ratings go up, they go down, who cares. Let the people that work for the networks concern themselves with the ratings. Those are the only people that should care. The viewers that obsess over them, and write long diatribes about them, like certain people here on this forum, really need to get a… Read more »

cooks7570
Guest
cooks7570

I want to know where is the drama is in GH. There is not one couple I care about. Can’t the show bite bullet and break a couple up. For Days of our lives. I just don’t find Andre scary. Why did the show have to give Abby a baby at her age.

blake
Guest
blake

Of course Days sucks now, it’s past the anniversary and the renewal so of course Ken Corday doesn’t care about the ratings now. Come the fall there will be new writers and old vets brought back.

Michael
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Michael

If you watch Friiday’s episode with those talent free actors that play Claire & Ciara & Theo & Chase you’ll get a good indication as to why the ratings are down. Seriously, I thought Guy Wilson was the worst daytime acttor until these terrible, awful teen actors came aboard. What is wrong with Corday and his casting director???

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

I can’t help myself; “…What is wrong with Corday and his casting director??? ” exactly !!!! Guy Wilson is a dream casting; compared to ; Ciara, Claire, Joey, Theo, Chase I’ve come to actually care about Chase… and Theo even when it comes; to Phillip / Belle / Shawn D. SNORE repeat… just as bad as the SORAS teens… i’m willing to give Belle a chance… but it still rankles and riles me that.. she’s the newbie Salem lawyer.. replacing Daniel Cosgrove’ ex-Aiden we haven’t seen, enough; of Shawn D.. to get all hot under the collar.. so be it… Read more »

Heckboy
Guest
Heckboy

If you thought Guy Wilson was the worst actor on Days, then you are blind. Of course, thanks to the fans of the previous Will, who are some of the worst human beings and nasty trolls on line who even harassed Guy’s family, it became popular to hate him. Yet, he remains a gracious human being. But congratulations, what you see on Days now is the result of a show that assumed that 20 or 30 despicable online trolls were the core audience of the show, and now it’s an unwatchable cesspool. I’ll say it. Chandler Massey was terrible, except… Read more »

Layla Kalich
Guest
Layla Kalich

The only soap I watch is GH. I should say I try to still watch it. The writing has become so painful and boring it has become challenging. The GH ratings are on a rise from maybe a month ago, but over all they are really down. Especially for Sweeps month, I feel like I was SWEPT into boredom. The writers and execs seem to be trying to pull anything they can out of their hat in hopes to gain and keep viewers. We have the whole big Julexis wedding to try and rein in all those Julexis shippers. I… Read more »

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

“THANK You” I really thought… when the presses lauded soooo much… how big this event was going to be.. and it seemed like it was a no hold barred big production LOL rolling what ruined it prior… was … ALEXIS … is still tooting her virtue… that Julian has changed his stripes.. and has let go of the mob tie etc… what a … ??? let down big deal… so.. I’m with you… after all the hoopla.. I got the same thing… they feature.. Alexis three daughters.. all cutesy cutesy in the front row.. front and center.. spotlight blech! at… Read more »

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

According to the ratings, I just dont see how Y&R has 40 percent more viewers than GH? Over the whole year I think Y&R is better but week to week, they put in too many average shows. I guess its the loyalty factor? People seem to turn off GH to quick.

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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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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