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Ron Carlivati Interview – Days of our Lives – Soapmaker of the Year 2017

Courtesy/ABC

As 2017 comes to a close we are singing, “Oh, Happy DAYS” again!  That can be attributed to one of the smartest moves made by the long-running NBC daytime drama series to bring Daytime Emmy-winning head writer, Ron Carlivati to Salem.  Over the last six months viewers have been riveted to their screens with compelling story after compelling story, and well-conceived and executed arcs for some of the shows most revered characters and stars.  Next, add in shocking twists, and surprise returns that no one saw coming, along with dashes of humor and the outrageous, and you’ve got one delicious soap opera ready to be served to its audience.

When you look back at Carlivati’s work thus far, it has been hit after hit.  From the double wedding where we learn Will Horton is alive, to the hunt for the beloved young man which takes us to Memphis and lo and behold Susan Banks, to Sami Brady’s return to Salem and the havoc she caused in the process, to JJ accidentally shooting Theo Carver … which sets up a ripple effect that devastates two families that ultimately almost ends the lives of both Theo and JJ in very different ways, to setting the stage for 2018 by bringing in a new DiMera, and more.  Ron resuscitated Salem, and reinvigorated the show with new life, and made the show ‘can’t-miss’ daily viewing once again.

Therefore, On-Air On-Soaps has given our highest honors of 2017 to Ron Carlivati for being named “Soapmaker of the Year”, our annual recognition that goes to an executive producer and/or head writer for their work.  This is Ron’s fourth honor from us having won this award previously: twice for General Hospital, and once for One Life to Live.

After receiving the news of our year-end honorsRon shared his thoughts on: the biggest DAYS storylines since he took the reins, what went into the decision-making process, and how certain top stories and appearances were constructed, and eventually made it to air.  In a comprehensive review of what had DAYS viewers buzzing about in 2017, and more, here’s what our honoree had to say about it all, and coming aboard the DAYS train after years as an ABC soap vet.  We hope you enjoy our final conversation of the year with Ron below. 

MICHAEL:

The response from the audience has been very positive to your first six months of air shows.  From your perspective, how do you think it’s gone?

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I am very, very pleased.  It was tough to be writing the show for so long, and yet waiting for the material to start airing.  You are operating in a little bit of a vacuum, but I would be getting some feedback from the studio, and some from the actors, and I was feeling pretty positive about that, but again, the audience is the true arbiter.  I was waiting with baited breath for July.  The fans have seemed to have responded to my version of Days of our Lives.  I feel the show has had continuous momentum, and I am happy with the whole result.

MICHAEL:

A lot of the actors who have been on the canvas really hadn’t gotten the opportunity to shine in material that has so much complexity and layers to it, as they have now under your pen.   I would love to talk about one of the great arcs of all-time that you gave to Alison Sweeney during Sami’s return to Salem, and the hunt for Will (Chandler Massey) and the fallout from that.  How was constructing that arc?  You gave Sami a rich full palette with many twists and turns.

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

There was a lot of pressure there.  Sami is such an iconic character, and the actress had moved on from DAYS, and she is doing a lot of other projects.  To ask Alison to come back is a ‘big ask’ to get her to do it.  So, I was willing to take on the pressure of getting Sami right, and deliver for Alison, and also the audience.  The story was there with Will being alive.  I knew that playing the ‘momma bear’, who wants answers about her son, is a no brainer.  But, I didn’t want the whole arc, because I had a limited amount of time with her to be just about that.  I had talked to Alison, and we had agreed that she would get to play all elements of Sami, not just the ‘momma bear’, but also the troublemaker.  I was trying to pack in as much Sami as I could in the time we had.  So not only did we have the story with Will, but I wanted her to also have some sort of lasting impact on the show when she left.  So, of course, that was sleeping with Rafe (Galen Gering) so that there is a secret she leaves behind.  I was just looking anywhere I could to enrich the experience of having Alison on the show.  I tried to stay as true to the character as I understood her, and always counting on my team, who know the characters on DAYS far better than I do.  I had a blast with her, and it was an easy character to write in a lot of ways.  Sami can kind of do anything, and sort of get away with it.  She can do things other characters cannot do.  It frees you up as a writer to say, “Wow!  I want her to do something drastic to bring Will’s memory back.”  Then I thought about what if she lets Ben (Rob Scott Wilson) out of the sanitarium, and recreates Will’s “murder”?  Needless to say, the whole time I am thinking, “Are they going to let me get away with this?” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

That is what I wanted to ask you.  Was there pushback?   It was a great twist.

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

No, there was not.  It made perfect sense to me, but I thought when the powers-that-be read this they will go, “Absolutely, not” (Laughs).  I will say from Bruce Evans (Current head of programming, NBC) on down they supported that decision.  I guess they believed Sami Brady is a character that could get away with it.  It’s not that people didn’t pause and say, “Are we sure we want to do this?”  I usually have a good hunch and instinct that something is going to work, or will be good, but you always have that underlying fear of “What if I went too far, or what If everybody hates it?”  It did seem that the audience went with it, and that Sami can do something extreme if you understand why.  In her crazy twisted way, she is doing it out of love for her son

MICHAEL:

What did you think of the final scene where Sami says goodbye to Will before she leaves town?  It was so emotional with her waiting at the door hoping that her son will reach out and hug her before she has to leave him behind.  

RON:

Courtesy/NBC

Both actors were incredible!  I thought Alison from start to finish brought it.  I felt something in almost every single scene she was in.  It’s very funny, because my dad, who is a newbie to Days of our Lives, called me a week ago, and said, “I miss Sami. Why don’t you bring her back?” (Laughs)  Will’s journey to get his memory back is not a short one.  We weren’t ready before Christmas to have him flooded with his memories, because we felt there is still a lot of story to tell there.  The trick was: if Sami leaves would she leave if her son doesn’t have his memories?  We wanted to make sure there was a moment between them.  So, that even if Will does not remember everything that we feel OK about Sami going, because they have somewhat of a breakthrough in their relationship, and somewhat of a catharsis.  So, that was what the purpose of those goodbye scenes between them, and what it was all about. 

MICHAEL:

So, when you were head writer over at One Life to Live and General Hospital, were you aware of the gay storyline going on over at DAYS?

RON:

Yes, and even as a soap fan if there is a show you don’t necessarily follow, you see stuff online, or in the magazines, and so you sort of know by osmosis what is going on with other shows, even though you don’t watch them.  I was aware of the gay storyline with Will.

MICHAEL:

Having Chandler Massey back was such a great asset for you to have to begin your writing on the show!

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I know!  Having Chandler come back was one of the first things I pitched when I got hired by DAYS.  As an outsider, when the character was killed, the audience was not happy about it.  It seemed it was one of the things that audience wanted changed.  And then they might go with you when you come up with this crazy reason why Will is not actually dead. (Laughs)  Ken Corday (executive producer, DAYS) and the powers-that-be supported it.  We also agreed we did not want to do it without Chandler.  We did not know if he was going to be open to it, or available to do it, or what?  During one of my early trips to L.A., I had breakfast with Chandler, and talked to him about why we wanted him back, and what we were doing, and what the idea was. Lucky for us, he agreed to come back.  It was something on my wish list, and I got it, as well as having Ali back, and so I did pretty good with my Christmas list this year. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Let’s talk about the decision to have Will come back with amnesia.  Are you at all concerned that you might end up keeping that going a tad too long?  What is fascinating is that you brought Will back a little sneakier with a bit of an edge, and as a young man who is trying to find himself.  Chandler plays all of that so well.

RON:

We missed the last two years of his life, and rather than just saying: he’s back, and he’s Will again, I felt there was a journey there to be told.  Watching Will get to know different people in town without really knowing them, then there is something to look forward to down the road.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Eileen Davidson comes back to DAYS for an arc as Susan Banks, and she is revealed to be the one who had Will this entire time.  How did you come to the decision to have it be Susan who kept Will from his family? 

RON:

Once I pitched this idea of Will being alive, and I got hired at DAYS, I sat down with the team and said, “OK, who is going to be behind this?  There has to be a villain!” Ryan Quan, who is my right-hand man, and I were going through possibilities, and you want it to be someone of substance.  You want it to be somebody who means something. So we were going through the big villains of the past, including Kristen.  I really think it was Ryan who brought Susan Banks up to me, because we were looking for not only a villain, but a villain who would have a rationale.  In talking with Ryan, I think he said in theory she could blame Sami for her son, EJ’s death.  What we loved as soon as he brought that up, and what I loved about it so much, was the symmetry.  Like, “OK, you killed my son; I’m going to take your son.”  And, as much as Susan is this goofy character, because the motivation was so strong, I went “This is the answer!”  People were saying, “What about having it be Kristen?   She is such a great villain!”  I said, “I don’t disagree, but the motive is so perfect with Susan.”  Thank God!   We were very lucky to have Eileen for a limited number of episodes, where she could shoot on Mondays when she was not taping Y&R.  And even Eileen was tentative about playing Susan.  She had her concerns.  She did not want it to be goofy.   I said to her, “I want the fun and outrageousness of Susan, but at its core, it is a heartbreaking emotional story.”  Eileen and I both wanted the same thing.  To me, her performance was out of this world!

MICHAEL:

It blew my mind.  It was amazing!  Eileen outdid herself with this performance! How’s that for superlatives! (Laughs)  It was one of my favorite things she has ever done. 

RON:

Courtesy/NBC

I was watching it in bed, and I said, “I could watch this woman all day.”   First of all, it’s hilariously funny.  But then, you watch this character, who is so absurd and ridiculous, and yet so very tragic, that it breaks your heart.

MICHAEL:

When Susan had her meltdown, it was the saddest thing I had ever seen.  Between your story and her work, it was just hankie-inducing.

RON:

That’s what I just love about soaps: that even the funniest moment can turn into something heartbreaking, and poignant.  Once I knew we had Eileen booked, and the story was pretty much written, I did add that coda where we had the return of Sister Mary Moira, and Kristen. I thought, “Now that we really do have the actress playing Susan, I’ve got to get something else out of this, too!” (Laughs)  I came up with the little coda so the audience could also see someone else besides Susan.

MICHAEL:

When the sneak preview promo for November on DAYS was shown at Day of Days in front of a live audience, the reaction to the Eileen material was amazing.  The fans were so excited, and flipping out in a good way! (Laughs)  Seeing it real time with a large gathering of devoted fans is something I would highly recommend to anyone, if given that kind of opportunity.

RON:

I watched that sneak preview, and I got chills!

MICHAEL:

You received many positive comments, and reviews for the standalone episode where JJ prepares to commit suicide by writing letters to his loved ones.  It was juxtaposed against Christmas Eve in Salem.  That was a beautifully constructed show.  Casey Moss (JJ) was amazing in it.  What can you say about constructing the episode? 

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I thought everybody in the production did such a beautiful job with it, and I will talk about Casey separately.  It was such a big deal to write this story.  It was a pretty drastic thing to do, and featuring people the audience really cares about.  Obviously, the reason to do this story is the families, and the consequences, and the fallout.  This idea of what would JJ do started to kind of evolve, and when we decided he might try and take his life, we knew we couldn’t do something like that lightly.  That’s where the idea came to build a whole episode around it, and you think about what form that would take.   Then you start to think: What does a person do?  Do they write a goodbye letter?  How do we open it up?  Yes, its JJ alone writing letters, but how do you make it more visually interesting, and bring other people into it without cutting into other stories?  So then the idea came that if he writes these letters, we get a window into these moments in his past that happened, but the audience didn’t get to see.  To me, to just do flashbacks is like doing a clip show.  I would not have wanted to use flashbacks that the audience had already seen.  In fact, the audience knows those scenes better than I!   I wanted to write something that was all new.  Obviously, the idea evolved to using Jack (Matt Ashford) as an emotional lynchpin of that episode, as well.

MICHAEL:

Did you chat with Casey before he filmed the episode?

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

No, I really hadn’t.  I have met Casey, but we never really talked about this one on one.  You see how the actor delivered in this story.  You felt what he was feeling.  I think as a very young actor that was a lot to put on his shoulders.  First, the storyline in general, and the whole episode where he is going to just sit here and write letters, and so you needed to feel something.  It was raw.  The pace and everything about it was not like a typical episode you would see on a soap.

MICHAEL:

It was interesting. There were those on social media who said they had a very tough time watching it, or needed to turn away from it, because it was so depressing given the subject matter was suicide.

RON:

I get that, and I sort of respect that!  Now that it has aired, I can say that we had the tag of that episode being that JJ opens the door to go do it, and there is Gabi (Camila Banus), and you end on this moment of hope.  But in the end, we decided it took away from the power of the whole thing.  If we were like, “Here she is to save him,” then that kind of undid everything we had just done.  As hard as it was to end that way with JJ holding the gun, we wanted it to end with the audience realizing, which you also start to realize as the episode unfolds, just what his intention is.   That was a big decision.  In general, people loved the episode on social media, but I saw people tweeting, “I know somebody who killed themselves.”  And while it’s hard to watch, some people who felt that way said, “I’m glad that DAYS is showing what that’s like to go through.”  The episode following that it is a catharsis when Gabi talks JJ down.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/NBC

When JJ cries in Gabi’s arms, it’s so gut-wrenching. 

RON:

Yes, and I have that in my mind so clearly.  Camila did such a wonderful job.  I thought Casey and her worked so well together.  I have to thank Ken Corday, and Albert Alaar (co-executive producer, DAYS), Greg Meng (co-executive producer, DAYS), and the network for letting me do it, because those are not easy decisions to make.  You don’t want to upset your audience, as here it’s almost Christmas, and we are writing an entire episode about suicide.  But again, it mirrors real life.  Unfortunately, the rate of suicides does go up at the holidays. I knew JJ would be saved, and so I knew there would be some relief.  I apologize for those who I made suffer through that day. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Theo’s (Kyler Pettis) shooting by a young white police officer; (JJ) had an element of ripped from the headlines of Black Lives Matter.  Was that the intent of this riveting story?

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Once you do any kind of a police shooting, it’s going to automatically bring people’s minds to things that are going on in our country today, and on top of it, you make it a young black man and it adds another level.  So people are bringing a lot of expectations to this storyline.  I didn’t want it to come off that we were taking a stand, or a political stance, or anything.  It is why, in the end, we decided to, as much as we could,  strip away those elements.  DAYS is a show that is so much about the families, and while I know every soap opera is, DAYS has even more so, that interconnected sense of family and community.  What I realized in pitching this story was that if you took race out of it, it would still have such an impact on the town, because of who everyone was.  You realize if we did not talk about Black Lives Matter, or race relationships, this story would still resonate.  I would never attempt to tackle that issue and say, “This is what people should think about this issue.”  I know people reacted to Theo wearing a hoodie.  Well, we had to have him wear a hoodie otherwise JJ wouldn’t recognize him.  On the flipside of what I am saying, it would be irresponsible to completely ignore it and say, “No one in town has thought of this.”  I wanted to do it in a small way, and let the audience bring what they want to this story.  Race is only addressed in one episode of the show in this storyline, and that was scene between Eli (Lamon Archey) and Gabi.  I felt strongly that as a young, black man who is in law enforcement, Eli would have a unique POV about it, and it would be strange not to address it. We did it as sensitively as we could.

MICHAEL:

What have you thought of James Reynolds (Abe) performances through this storyline? 

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I think he did an incredible job!  The episode on Christmas Day; where he offers forgiveness to JJ, and takes him to see Theo, it breaks your heart.  I believed this man, and James brought raw pain, and anger to Abe’s situation. 

MICHAEL:

The double wedding was another great story of yours in 2017.  How compelling was Rob Scott Wilson coming back and spilling the tea that Will is alive?  I think Rob has reached soap opera cult status with his portrayal! (Laughs) 

RON:

There is a scene after they drag Ben out of the wedding to the interrogation room at the Salem PD, and he has his head down on the table.  Rob played it so seductive, and I don’t even mean that in a sexual way, but he is so off, and creepy, and crazy, that you can’t stop watching him!  I loved the double wedding, too.  It was a great way to tie more than one story together.  We knew Will is alive with the story we are about to tell.   So, of course, you want to get Sonny (Freddie Smith) and Paul (Christopher Sean) as close as humanly possible by then.  Also, you start to think that you want to reunite Chad (Billy Flynn) and Abigail (Marci Miller).  I go, “We are going to have two weddings competing with each other?  Do we postpone one? And then, it’s like, “What if we do them together?”  I am sucker for a double wedding on the soaps!  I am always pitching it, and I have been turned down on it before! (Laughs) 

MICHAEL:

Right before the wedding, there were some beautifully written scenes in the church between Paul and Sonny, where Sonny admits he feels like he is betraying Will if he marries Paul.  It was a very adult conversation, I felt, for these two to have that was a long time coming with the elephant in the room at that point being a “deceased” Will.  What did you think of those moments? 

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Those were great scenes.  One of our outline writers, Dave Ryan, wrote the vows between Sonny and Paul.  We talked about them in the layout, but not the specifics.  He turned in the outline and I read it, and I went, “Oh, my God!  This is beautiful!”  We replayed Paul’s whole vows at the top of the next episode.  There was just a wonderful understated way that Christopher Sean played things.  It was matter of fact, but it felt so real.  Paul turned while John (Drake Hogestyn) was holding up his phone, so he could say something in Japanese to his mother.  I thought that was such a beautiful moment, too.

MICHAEL:

You are up against your former show and writing team over at General Hospital for the WGA Award for the Daytime Drama category.  What’s that like?  Is it odd, or fun?

RON:

I would say it’s kind of both.  Those people are my friends, and my former colleagues. There is no ill-will there.   Obviously, it’s a little strange.  But again, we are in such a small business.  It’s not like I haven’t been to this rodeo before, where we have friends and colleagues in competition with each other.  Those things are always such a great opportunity to see people and catch-up, and so I am looking forward to the award ceremonies in February.

MICHAEL:

What has it been like for you since you were originally an ABC guy, and you knew those shows inside and out, and you now have come to Days of our Lives not knowing the characters as well as you knew the other shows from your history?  Did you find taking on the role of head writer harder because of it, or was it easier in a way because of it?

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

It was a bit of both.  When I got hired at General Hospital, I had to jump right in.  I think I wrote the tail end of One Life to Live, and had to start immediately at GH.   But, I wasn’t nervous, because I could say to myself, “I know this show.”  Here at DAYS, it can at first be a bit overwhelming just finding out how everyone is related.  Often times people are related in more than one way: “I’m your cousin, and I’m your aunt!” (Laughs)  It was tricky coming in and learning the relationships, and I would keep forgetting who’s who.  I would be like, “Oh, these two would make a great couple!” And my team would go, “Ah, they are brother and sister.” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Did you ever think you would be the perfect fit for DAYS?  So many people had taken to social media and said over the last few years that Ron would be the perfect fit for DAYS with his penchant for the outlandish, etc.?

RON:

Courtesy/NBC

I had heard that, and there is a certain vibe of what I had done in the past at One Life to Live, or General Hospital where you could say, “That might work on Days of our Lives.”  I was, of course, aware of all the big crazy things that happened on the show like Marlena (Deidre Hall) being possessed by the devil and levitating, or Hope (Kristian Alfonso) turning into Princess Gina, etc.  Not that I was going to come in and do stuff that was necessarily so crazy and over the top, but knowing this is a show that had done those things, and that the audience might go with you, if you do it right was intriguing.  That was kind of liberating to me; to go in and be like. “I could unleash my outrageous side a little bit here.”  To your point about being more new to the show, that was also creatively liberating.  At General Hospital I would be like, “I know these characters” while here it was more of a challenge to learn about them, and then see what I could bring new to the table, when there has been a team of people who have been writing the characters for many years.  I think I was a pair of fresh eyes, in a way.

MICHAEL:

The first new character you have created for Days of our Lives is Tyler Christopher’s character, Stefan.  He makes his debut next week!

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Yes, and I am excited about that.  I wanted to be careful about this.  I was just learning the canvas, and it was way, way on the back-burner to bring in somebody new.  I was playing with the toys I was given when I got there.  It was months before I brought up bringing anybody new in. 

MICHAEL:

It’s great that you and Tyler get to work together again, right?

RON:

I was super excited when we cast him.  I loved writing him on General Hospital.  I respect Tyler as an actor.  I loved writing for him as Nikolas Cassadine, and you know I loved the relationship between him and his on-screen son, Spencer (Nicolas Bechtel), because you had this mysterious brooding Bruce Wayne-esque guy living in this gothic castle, wearing black and scowling a lot, and then you had this little imp running around annoying him.  It was great dynamic between them. (Laughs)   Tyler won the Emmy for his performance after Spencer got burned.  He was one of the first people at the Emmys that year to come up to me and say, “Thank you.  I am nominated because of you.”  I was like, “No, no, no. You brought something to it, too.”  Tyler is such a good guy.

MICHAEL:

Did you think you would have the opportunity to head write another soap opera?

RON: 

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I don’t know.  When I first got into this business there were like ten soaps left.  People could quit in a huff and be the head writer of another show a month later, so losing that job would be, to some, less of a big deal.  Here in present time there are only four soaps left, and so if you lose your job on one that leaves only three others.  The prospects are limiting.  I am never really going to let go of soaps, since I am such a fan of the genre, but at some point you sort of start to move on and explore different things.  I wrote a pilot for ABC, that was actually about soaps, but I was a surprised when Days of our Lives came knocking.  It can be a bit daunting when you have been out of the mix for a while.  You have to come in and hit the ground running when you are a head writer on a 252 episode a year daytime drama.  I have a great team with Ryan Quan, Sheri Anderson Thomas, and all the other writers, who almost all of whom have written the show for a long time. So for me, I came from a place of these are people who know this show, and I have something to learn from them.

MICHAEL:

Let’s talk about your love for doppelgangers! (Laughs)  And, how you kicked off your tenure with not one, but two doppelgangers for DAYS fans to enjoy: Hattie (Deidre Hall) and Bonnie (Judi Evans).  What did you think of the story when you saw it on its feet?

RON:

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I loved it!  (Laughs)  I came in with something outrageous from day one.  I didn’t wait to get my feet wet.   So I said, “What if there are two doubles in town?”  My first episode had Hattie in it, and it was to take what has already been started with the character of Angelica (Morgan Fairchild) and take that into a new direction.  I know there’s the soap opera cliché’ of an evil twin.   I say, “Hey, I love all of those soap opera tropes, first of all.”  But I am also always going, “How can we tweak them?”   People questioned me, “Do we really need both? “  Yes, of course you do! (Laughs)  I thought both Deidre Hall and Judi Evans were fantastic and great at playing the two different characters.  It is very fun to watch, not only when they are full on Bonnie, or full on Hattie, but I love when they are acting as full on Adrienne, or Marlena, but bringing you the Bonnie, or the Hattie.  One of my wants coming into DAYS was that I wanted to give the audience something to make them laugh.

MICHAEL:

In closing, what can you say in a broad stroke for fans to look forward to in Salem in 2018?

RON:

Now that I have gotten my feet wet, I want to keep up that momentum.  We have my first original character coming on and I want to shake things up a bit.  Basically, we are not putting our foot on the break; we are putting our foot on the gas.

So, what have you thought of Days of our Lives under head writer, Ron Carlivati?  When reflecting back on the stories that made Ron our choice for Soapmaker of the Year in 2017, which was your favorite DAYS moment and episode?  Which character’s return impressed you the most?  Share your thoughts on our final feature of the year in the comment section below. (Note: To make a comment, you can also go to the top left side of the interview and click on “Leave a Comment” to bring you to the commenting field)

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Max
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Max

Thank you Ron for saving our Show. So happy to have Days Back.

Margie
Guest
Margie

Ron – I’m half back because of Kassie and Tyler, and you, of course. Bring back James Read as Clyde asap, please. Please. He’s brilliant.

Myrtle Mcgovern
Guest
Myrtle Mcgovern

I loved the humor in the doppelganger story. The Theo/JJ storyline as also riveting.

Favorite returns were Robert Scott Wilson (Ben ), Allison Sweeney (Sami). The pinnacle of returns was Matthew Ashford (Jack).

In 2018 I’m looking for Ron to #Bringbackjackand Matthew Ashford alive and permanently. There are so many stories to tell with his family ties to the characters on the canvas.

Kye
Guest
Kye

Yes me 2 bring jack back his family needs him alive we all do please bring him back ASAP

Pooky
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Pooky

So much praise and the show really hasn’t improved all that much. There are still tons of issues with the writing. Very little payoff for these stories that RC builds up. The Theo shooting went on and on and became a giant bore.
All Ron talks about are the guest stars. Very little to say about the actual cast.

Paul McNamara
Guest
Paul McNamara

Great interview Michael but you should of asked if he was planning to bring James Scott back as he actually wrote that EJ was alive he had Kristen say it.

What was the point of that?

We want Ejami reunited Sami was always best with EJ he always be her true soul mate.

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

Maybe DAYS originally planned to bring EJ back, but decided the new character, Stefan, was the way to go. And because Stefan O. DiMera is on canvas, there is no need for EJ. EJ is null and void because Stefan fills the void.

Paul McNamara
Guest
Paul McNamara

Lol Stefan fills the void well since your a Ejami hater i get why you said that but the fans that loved Ejami and EJ this guy TC never compare to James. Also i bet if you asked Corday or NBC which one if they had to choose James or TC it be no contest be James be everyday you forget they made him a big offer to return way before TC was brought in.

Andrew Hass
Guest
Andrew Hass

Well it was reported that the show did reach out to James Scott about coming back as EJ but he said no.However maybe the show didn’t want to bring EJ back without having Sami around.So if and when Sami returns again maybe that’s when the show brings EJ back.However i also think the show letting the viewers know EJ is alive is setting up future story.

Tatiana
Guest
Tatiana

No-one I mean No-one will fill the void James Scott left and I am actually relieved he ain’t coming back to this shit show. Poor Tyler he has no idea what he signed up for IMO Stefan will just be an Chabby interloper and loser in love and eventually a one dimension villain. Plus I think fans were to eager to jump on praising RC when he has yet to prove real results apart from no-one liking Dena.

mzemma
Guest
mzemma

Outside of having Sami hog all the airtime during her stint, am pretty happy with the stories. However, though it is nice to have old favs back for a visit, a story arc, it has been at the expense of regular cast, who have mostly been backburnered. John, Marlena, Steve, Chad, Rafe, Kayla, Hope, Justin, Adrienne, Abby, Gabi, Eric, Brady….even Jen & Maggie. None deserve to be background extras, or not even seen at all. Which has been the case. Regular cast has been shuffled aside for quite some time, if they have filmed, their scenes have been cut. Again,… Read more »

Ray
Guest
Ray

This is the best “DOOL” has been in years. I am extremely happy with the turnaround in the show in the past six months. For years, certain actors have been sitting idle and it made me questions why they were still on the show. The first case is James Reynolds. Abe has not had a significant storyline since Lexie’s death. Who knew the audience would be so captivated by his scenes with Theo and JJ (two more under-utilized actors). The return of Sami was magic. It will be impossible for the Daytime Emmy awards to not nominate Alison Sweeney. Ron… Read more »

lieueitak
Guest
lieueitak

I loved seeing Eileen back on Days; she is the best daytime has to offer. Other than that though, I don’t think the show has improved much if at all. I was hoping for fresh storytelling, but Ron seems content with keeping the elements of the show that don’t work.

mzemma
Guest
mzemma

I am ashamed I forgot to mention Bryan Datillo’s outstanding turn as Lucas fell off the wagon, deep in despair. The story was terrific, and the acting just outstanding. I am surprised Michael did not ask about it……..but then, off Lucas has gone to rehab, and no one even mentions his name anymore. Isn’t he Will’s father? Tsk, tsk.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I think the show is heading in the right direction, and I always thought Ron would fit Days like a glove. Ron, if you read this, realize that the majority of Days fans feel like you have brought this show back from the brink, and we are grateful. Now, I say liven it up with the outrageous. That’s what makes Days tick, and you can do things on Days you could never do on any other soap, so have fun with it. Write more for Deidre Hall, please. She only appeared in 3 episodes in December, and she is the… Read more »

Andrew Hass
Guest
Andrew Hass

I also Eileen Davidson comes back as Kristen even if it’s just for a few months and i think Kristen works better as a character who returns for a time, causes damage and then leaves again like they just did with Sami.As for Sami, it wouldn’t surprise me if next time we see her she’s pregnant with Rafe’s child or just had the child.That way just Rafe and Hope have gotten past him having sex with Sami and are back together Sami shows up with her and Rafe’s child. I also am loving the amnesiac Will and his scenes with… Read more »

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

I will always love DOOL, no matter what, but these most recent storylines have just put this show to a soap to the highest level!!! Thank you Ron!!

Ml
Guest
Ml

You could have asked why Steve and Kayla don’t have a story. The vets should be the backbone of the show and their children should be leading stories.

It’s simple. Why are we watching Kate and Andre and Hope and Rafe???? It’s awful

Merle
Guest
Merle

I too like to see the vets from the show back . I love Julie and Doug, Julie may play the bosssy lady which can make her unpopularwith those who think soap operas are rel people
but she is so good at it and she has a certain charm that adds to the stor lines,

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

Mary Beth And Stephen care so very much about their characters Kayla and Patch–and their legacy–they should ALWAYS be on the front burner.

Jaime
Guest
Jaime

Yup. But what Carlivati writes tends to be insulting at the very least. Now we have John poisoning Steve and Marlena cheerleading for it as a great heroic act! The INSANITY OF THIS WRITING HAS SO TURNED MY STOMACH. First the UNEXPLAINED DISRESPECT for Steve. John arrogantly makes all the decisions concerning Steve. He neglects the simple fact that Steve was an agent too and has been involved in more escapades than most YET john could not trust him to warn him about his own life? And this is supposed to make John a hero? Marlena ARROGANTLY SAYS SO. Kayla… Read more »

Jules
Guest
Jules

MI- Your own post doesn’t track- you want the vets to be the backbone, but you don’t include Andre, Kate and Hope as vets? Sure more Steve and Kayla would be great, but don’t conflate two different things- wanting your favourites on more VS wanting veteran characters. The story for Stayla, I would argue, hasn’t been utilized to their best capacity. But RC is doing a GREAT justice to the vets! He just, thankfully, has so many vets to showcase. There’s only so much time in each episode! What a glorious problem to have….as opposed to GH where he last… Read more »

Jaime
Guest
Jaime

Because Kate is always given story you say Carlivati is great. we should not care about our favorites when apparently yours gets story. Well you may be happy others are NOT. TOO MANY ABBY’S AND THE RISE OF THE VILLAIN FAMILIES IS NOT DAYS

Sharyn from Australia
Guest
Sharyn from Australia

Having watched Days my entire life I have ridden all the waves. When people would give up on it, I would still be there watching. My best friend who is a huge GH fan as well as Days told me when Ron was coming to Days that it would be the injection it needed to be saved. Omg I cannot express how grateful I am that she was right. The storylines have been outstanding. Casey Moss was incredible. Having Chandler back amazing! Every twist and turn I have loved and I am genuinely excited to watch each day. Please never… Read more »

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

And Emmy for Casey should be a certainty based on his stand-alone performance! So sensitive and vulnerable–he left it all on the floor with that performance–a bit reminiscent of James Dean’s Rebel without a Cause with Natalie Wood.

Torrey
Guest
Torrey

Days fans are getting a taste of what we One Life To Live fans have known for some time….Ron is a genius! I sure do miss my OLTL but have been checking in to Days since he joined.

Michael Clave
Guest
Michael Clave

Torrey – you got that right! I watched “One Life to Live” for its entire run and Ron was one of the best head writers ever for the show! “One Life to Live” will always be my favorite soap and like you I continue to miss “OLTL” very much.. what got me started watching “Days” was when Kassie de Paiva ( so good as “Blair Cramer” on “OLTL” ) began as “Eve” on “Days.” the show even had the actress who played “Natalie” for a few months and the actor who played “Rex Balsom” was on for about a year..… Read more »

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

I have a simple request:

Bring back Shawn and Belle, the son of one supercouple and the daughter of another, who should be leading story.

Bonus points for naming a character (possibly a gravedigger) after me, Forever!

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

*named after me, not after me. lol

Iris Cohen
Guest
Iris Cohen

Great article, Michael! I just want to thank Ron for getting Days back on track. It’s the show I love again and the writing and acting has been top knotch. Just hoping Ron’s writing takes Steve and Kayla in a storyline where they will stay together and fight against the forces that dare try to keep them separated. Stephen and Mary Beth are so talented and deserve emmy worthy storylines. They work so hard every day to be team players and want the show to succeed. They also know their characters are always better together than apart.

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

Yes, you said it!

roy m upton
Guest
roy m upton

with the return of Vivian , salem can be officially renamed psycho city.
I am waiting for Kristen. craziness delivered in the most polished package. why do we soap afficianados dote on villainous women?????

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Ron’s tenure at General Hospital was not my favourite at all. The beginning of messy, the middle was quite decent, and at the end, it was just bad. The melting face masks, the unnecessary baby-swaps and the go-to rape storylines just were not entertaining to me. The back peddling and stereotypical stories he told were outrageous, and certainly were not my cup of tea. And I have to say, I do believe that’s because there was no break between writing One Life to Live (which I hated and did not watch) and GH. Thankfully, having nearly a two-year break from… Read more »

Andrew Hass
Guest
Andrew Hass

Maybe Ron Carlivati just needed some time away from writing soaps to get recharged in a way because combining his time at OLTL and GH he was writing for like 7 straight years or so.Plus maybe having Quan and Anderson Thomas be his story consultants at Days is beneficial to Carlivati in a way since they may know the show’s history better than he does.Also i hope with Theresa’s upcoming return in May we see her parents Shane and Kimberly return too even if it’s a short term visit and they play a part in how Theresa returns.

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Everything you just said was what I said, LOL.

Michael Clave
Guest
Michael Clave

Scott – you are certainly entitled to your opinion; but I watched “One Life to Live” from the first episode July 15, 1968 until the last episode on ABC on January 13, 2012 and “One Life to Live” is my all time favorite soap! I loved Ron’s work on my show and the gay storyline between Fish and Kyle which was abruptly ended. I was never a fan of “General Hospital” because of the mob storylines.. the reason that I started watching “Days of Our Lives” in the first place was when Kassie de Paiva began as “Eve” back in… Read more »

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Because I did watch One Life to Live following the cancelation of As the World Turns when it was on SOAPNet. I got into the three ABC soaps, and unfortunately, I was never able to connect with OLTL. I’d watch, stop and come back, and every single time I came back I just could not connect with it. And I did watch clips online of pre-Carlivati, and it was better back then, but still not something I connect with.

Michael Clave
Guest
Michael Clave

thanks for explaining that to me.. I thought that the last year of “One Life to Live” was excellent especially with Roger Howarth returning to play “Todd Manning” again after “As the World Turns” was cancelled.. the story of the two Todds was one of Ron’s best storylines on my show in my opinion. but you just did not connect with my show and I can respect that.. of the 3 ABC soaps; “One Life to Live” has always been my favorite.. “All My Children” was alright and I watched that show off and on during the 80’s and 90’s.… Read more »

Dean_Morgan
Guest
Dean_Morgan

Days is in a good place. Thanks Ron. My only “must do” that he hasn’t fulfilled yet is having Christie Clark return as Carrie- either full time or for an arc. I think Carrie and Stefan could be HOT.

Charé Days
Guest
Charé Days

Ron’s biggest miss was breaking up Chad and Gabriella, a couple who have great chemistry and passion between them juat to re-pair Chad and Abby who have absolutely no chemistry and passion between them. Ron need to fix this problem and put Chad back with the woman he belongs with, his love from High School, Gabi. They do share a loving history. They have more of a love story than do Chad and Abby. Chad and Abby just had moments. Just look at the history of the horrible things that they did to one another. One way to get Abby… Read more »

Keegan
Guest
Keegan

I completely disagree. LOVE Chad and Abby together, I basically watch for Chabby. The Gabi mess went on way too long and didn’t make any sense once Abby resurfaced.

Maca
Guest
Maca

He’s a genius

Phyllis
Guest
Phyllis

Ron, I am so thankful for your talent and the commitment you have brought to Day’s. You clearly are invested in what made DOOL great in the past and to what the fans wanted to see. I have enjoyed every nuance you and your team has written. I have been watching since the the first air date and i’ll be honest the last two years where very difficult. My only request is keep people out of the private park for private conversations or keep them rare instead of the go to hot spot. Also, try to tempt Alison Sweeney back… Read more »

blake
Guest
blake

Thank God for Ron C. and his team writing for Days. He keeps the show interesting to watch every day like he did at One Life To Live, but his six months on Days are better than anything he’s done on another soap IMO.

Lauri Dawkins
Guest
Lauri Dawkins

THANK YOU for such an insightful interview–it’s always great learning of behind the scenes tidbits, let alone whole platefuls! As for me, I have always, for decades now, been ever hopeful for the return of the same 2 characters, preferably together. Let me just say, PUH-LEEEEEEEAZE bring back Eugene and Calliope. They remain THE biggest breaths of fresh air ever breathed into Days that I can remember, going back to the mid 70’s. Just my 2 cents’ worth.

Glenn F.
Guest
Glenn F.

Michael Fairman, Why didn’t you ask Ron Carlivati in detail about DAYS gay storyline? After DAYS killed off Will Horton-Kiriakis, there was an outcry among DAYS fans against that. Even ALISON SWEENEY publicly protested that. Many DAYS fans are convinced it was a homophobic move on the part of DAYS producers and writers. There are many relevant ways that all that could be playing into how Carlivati is currently writing DAYS gay storyline. So why not ask Carlivati about that? It seems you’re trying to hide the elephant in the room by ignoring all that. Do you consider yourself a… Read more »

4ever DAYS
Guest
4ever DAYS

At the time of the Will “murder,” Glenn, there were different writers than there are now, but the producers are the same. The truth is DAYS didn’t care for the Will replacement and kept in contact with Chandler Massey. The writer who “killed” Will may have been homophobic, but I feel it’s unfair to blame anyone associated with DAYS, especially when there are many factors involved with ending characters, storylines and contracts and the simple fact that DAYS has done more for LGBT than the other soaps combined. It’s a soap, characters die and come back. I’d like to hear… Read more »

Misty
Guest
Misty

Days has been a mess since they brought on Princess Gina, followed by Gemini Twins, SKK, only time I hated it more was during queen (small q intentionally) night and possession. Anything done during Cruise of Deception and before was fairly decent.
Ron does absolutely nothing for me with his writing style. He can praise himself and you can’t praise him all you want, and I will still call the show garbage. I would hate to see days cancelled because I really like Early history of the show. But this is really all NONSENSE@!@!@!

Michael Clave
Guest
Michael Clave

Misty – I have only been watching “Days” since June 2014 so I was not watching when the Princess Gina and other storylines were airing.. but I can say that “Days” has improved greatly in my opinion since Ron became the head writer. I love his writing style ever since he wrote for my beloved “One Life to Live” . you are entitled to your opinion; but I very strongly disagree with your comment that the show is “garbage” now!!! if you think that the show is “NONSENSE” now then why do you continue watching it???? the only thing that… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

This soap has come a long ways, not only are story lines much improved, but also the level of acting itself has been elevated by consistent excellent performances! I’d be hard pressed to name a favorite actor / actress, though I’m captivated by Christopher Sean’s portrayal of Paul Narita and the man’s very natural acting ability! Casey Moss’s (JJ’s) suicide episode was outstanding, his darkened eyes filled excruciating internal torment. Alison Sweeney has never been in better form and I never tire of Lauren Koslow (Kate), the ageless beauty is always on top of her acting game! I had stopped… Read more »

Angie Alto
Guest
Angie Alto

Days returns bigger and better then ever! Keep up the stories. Nice to see familiar faces come and go.

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

Have to hand it to Ron, he has done a marvelous job at Days. I hated him on GH and was pleased when he was removed, but 2 1/2 years after the fact GH still has a lot of the same problems and it is now evident that much if not most of the problem on GH is Frank.

Josh
Guest
Josh

So cool

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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