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THE ARIANNE ZUKER INTERVIEW – DAYS OF OUR LIVES

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She is in a front burner storyline that is getting rave reviews from soap fans and critics alike, as Nicole on “DAYS”. This week her storyline heats up as Nicole finally comes across a very pregnant Sami, which sets a whole chain of events in motion. Actress, Arianne Zuker, sat down with me to discuss Nicole’s machinations, and the final goodbyes to Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn. She also spoke about her winning performance in the online soap, “Life in General”, in which she has been recently nominated for a TV Guide Canada, “Soap Opera Spirit Award”.

However, this Saturday January 24th, Arianne is taking on yet another challenge. She is performing for the first time live on stage with the famed ACME Comedy Theatre Group. Sitting backstage with Ari on her first day of rehearsal, we chatted about working in “Sketch comedy” and all the latest developments in Nicole’s
baby drama.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, and would like to see Arianne live, go to http://www.acmecomedy.com for ticket and show information. It should be a hilarious and fun show.

Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

This Saturday, you have decided to perform in the live sketch comedy show at the very famous ACME theatre here in Los Angeles. Why the decision?

ARIANNE:

By force, and my arm being twisted behind my back! Pain made me do it. Just kidding! I saw Bryan Dattilo (Lucas) do the show and it’s the equivalent of Saturday Night Live, which is hysterical. I was asked if I would consider doing it and I said, “Absolutely,” because I don’t get to do enough comedy on “DAYS”, and certainly not lately. Prior to me leaving the show the first time, I got a chance to do it.

MICHAEL:

So I am doing this interview with you backstage before you find out what the sketches will be for the performance. Can you veto anything and do a soap “Diva” trip on the cast?

ACME.jpgARIANNE:

I have to tell you, I have never been to a sketch meeting before, but I am looking forward to what they throw in front of me.

MICHAEL:

So, you will play many roles in the show that evening?

ARIANNE:

Yes, it could be anything. It will all be one big surprise.

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MICHAEL:

Are you a nervous wreck about the improv aspect of this kind of live comedy?

ARIANNE:

Not when it comes to humiliating myself. I don’t wear contacts, so I can’t read the Teleprompters. Of course, it will all come from memorization unless I wear my glasses. It should be really exciting, because I won’t be able to see that. Oh, well, whatever! It will be fun. (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

Who would you like to be in the audience to witness this?

ARIANNE:

I made sure that our “DAYS” PR office invited everyone from the show. I would love everyone to come out and see me and the theatre itself. It’s so much fun to see it live. I had done a workshop improv class for two years, the two years I was off “DAYS.” I did that, which may be why I feel comfortable doing this. Here at least, I get scripts as opposed to pure improv.

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MICHAEL:

Who would you want to be with in a sketch comedy show, if it was an all-star “DAYS” cast?

eric.jpgARIANNE:

I would have Eric Martsolf (Brady), because we have a great relationship outside the show. He is very funny and hysterical. I tell you; whenever we run our lines I have to get all the laughter out before we do our scenes. He’s got this quirky, dry sense of humor with this smirk on his face, all the time.

MICHAEL:

You are so heavy in story on “DAYS” right now, and currently the most compelling actress and, in the most compelling story on the show. Are you enjoying carrying the main storyline?

ARIANNE:

Yeah. I love my job and love the storyline right now. It’s definitely meaty. I am always usually the sidekick, but now I have hearty storyline, and I appreciate it very much.

MICHAEL:

So much has been written about you from all of us covering the soap genre, that you have really been amazing and risen to the top of the soap actors on TV.

ARIANNE:

It’s a team effort. When I came back to the show, I came back a bit of a different actress. I would like to give the writers credit, that they allowed me to take the storyline to a different place, as well. I could not do it by myself.

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MICHAEL:

This week in major desperation and determination, Nicole comes face-to-face with Sami!

sami.jpgARIANNE:

Chloe tells me where Sami is. You know, it’s funny knowing that Sami is involved in anything to do with her. First, she is going to lose it and get pissed off, and then come up with something or some plan. Interestingly enough, the whole story is not about finding out Sami’s pregnant. It’s an idea that Nicole gets concerning Sami’s baby. Maybe when we are in the storyline together, you will see that old relationship
come back.

MICHAEL:

We all see a ‘baby switch’ coming. Do you like the idea?

ARIANNE:

It’s written differently than your typical ‘baby switches’ that have happened in the past, at least on our show. I like how they are writing the character; very carefully.

MICHAEL:

You almost feel bad for Nicole, in a way. She is so desperate to hold on to EJ. Why?

ARIANNE:

He represents the child that she had. He represents that she fell in love again. I think Eric Brady was her first love, and she messed that up, again. The baby is half the reason EJ and Nicole fell in love in the first place. In Nicole’s eyes, she probably feels she could not have had EJ unless she was pregnant. I feel that is the whole reason she is doing this; to have a real family, and trying to escape her past that she can’t get out of. Even though everything she is doing is somehow related to her past, she is not trying to hurt anyone this time.

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MICHAEL:

Coming up in February, what can we say to “DAYS” fans about the on-going baby saga?

ari-james.jpgARIANNE:

Let’s just say, Nicole is not in the clear. I think with all the baby stuff happening, and the baby being born, let’s just say, I will get one. I think you will see more twists and surprises that I am happy about. There will be a little Melanie action, because she is working with EJ.

MICHAEL:

Now let’s discuss the pregnancy ‘padding’ you have been wearing. Ah, how dumb is EJ?

ARIANNE:

The great thing was, they kept EJ busy so he could never really touch me. There’s dedication for a guy. For someone so smart, he sure was stupid. (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

Couples and pairings have been changing on “DAYS” in recent months so quickly at times, it is jolting the fans. Do you think that is a good thing for the show, or a bad thing?

ARIANNE:

You know, I think that soaps the way they use to be, and the way they need to be now, are different. They need to move a little faster with the age of the Internet; even the promos are so fast now. People who watch the soaps are used to it one way. I think you have to test things, and if you don’t test, you don’t know what’s going to work. I love working with a variety of people, and our ratings have gone up. It is a good story with the constant cattiness between Sami and Nicole. Now with Alison coming back, it will get really interesting!

MICHAEL:

Alison Sweeney, (Sami) just gave birth last week to a baby girl. When can we expect her back on the canvas to ‘duke it out’ with Nicole?

Sweeny.jpgARIANNE:

Alison had her baby last Monday, and she will soon be coming back to the grind. I think she only took two weeks off, so it will be exciting.

MICHAEL:

What do you hope to feel when you come off the stage on Saturday night?

ARIANNE:

Laughter! Making people laugh, and coming on the heels of Tuesday’s presidential inauguration, there is a lot of positivity right now. I think laughter is the best medicine for everything. If I get my lines out right, it will be a success!

MICHAEL:

Speaking of lines, you have so much to memorize on “DAYS”. Do you ever check
out and say, “Enough,
I can’t anymore?”

ARIANNE:

By the end of the week, your brain gets a little mushy. I find that I have to work and prepare either right after I get off work, or stay at work and learn my lines, or at least the majority of them, or I have to get up at five in the morning. After dinner time, I am useless when it comes to memorization. It works out well, and boy are we working fast! Between getting my hair and make-up done at 6:15AM, and getting ready before we get on stage, I barely run my lines with my co-stars. That’s why I feel doing stuff like the ACME theatre will be really fun. I have a week or at least four days to rehearse my lines!

MICHAEL:

How is working with devious Dr. Baker, played by soap vet, John Callahan? Don’t you guys break up in laughter sometimes?

john.jpgARIANNE:

He cracks me up. We try to get the laughter out beforehand. Some of the lines coming up with the whole Sami situation are so funny coming from him. We get a kick out of the story. He is enjoying himself.

MICHAEL:

This is the week of the final performances of Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn. (Marlena and John) Were you on the set for their
goodbyes?

ARIANNE:

I was at the studio, and they did not want a big final ‘ta-do’. I watched them on the show as a ‘tween’ in summers with my cousin, and its nuts, but they have their reasons. I am sad to see them go. I don’t know if they are gone for good or who knows, but stranger things have happened on the soaps.

MICHAEL:

Did you set any New Year’s resolutions for 2009?

ARIANNE:

I set goals, like my grocery list, and they happen when they happen. I try to manifest everything I want in my life. New Year’s resolutions to me are like Valentine’s Day, and Valentines Day should be all the time.

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MICHAEL:

Now, I have to talk to you about my other favorite performance of the year. That is of you as the head writer on the online soap, “Life in General”. What if you win the Soap Opera Spirit Award on Wednesday? How do you feel about the project?

Ariane11.jpgARIANNE:

That would be so exciting to win! I really hope “Life in General” goes. I love Karen Harris. She is wonderful! Basically, I played Karen Harris, I think. I came across this role through my old producer on “DAYS”, Roy Steinberg, who was working on it. The heart behind the show is: no one is making any money and it’s a really great project, and a great idea. I am sure many people thought of the idea, but Karen pushed it through. It’s two shows in one. It’s clever and obviously has great actors (She laughs referring to herself) I mean, Jobeth Williams from “Poltergeist”, which was my favorite movie, was in it. I had to hold my self back and not say, “I am your biggest fan!”

MICHAEL:

During my “Life in General” interviews, I spoke with Brynn Thayer, and she also told me how much she loved working with you.

ARIANNE:

I tried to get Brynn as my mother on “DAYS”, so we will see if that happens. I would love to see the show move. It’s gotten great reviews. It’s just a matter of time before this whole internet thing is huge. I would love to see it go, and I would play that and do Nicole.

Ari-outside.jpgMICHAEL:

Then you must be a workaholic, right?

ARIANNE:

I love working, and when you are an actor you just eat it up. I would rather be exhausted from doing what I love to do, than anything else.

Days Of Our Lives

WATCH: Jackée Harry Comes to Days of our Lives Promo

Next week on March 1st look for the arrival of Jackée Harry to NBC’s Days of our Lives.

Harry is coming to the long-running soap in the new role of Paulina, who is connected to the Carver family.

In the newly-released promo heralding her upcoming DAYS debut, the actress shares, “I’ve got three good reasons you should watch me on Days of our Lives … I’m bold … I’m fabulous .. and you know I’m going to stir up trouble.  Let’s do this!”

Harry is best known for her roles in the sitcoms 227, Sister, Sister and numerous roles on television and motion pictures.

Watch the NBC promo featuring Jackée below.

What kind of trouble do you think Harry’s Paulina will stir up in Salem? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS OF OUR LIVES: Cady McClain Ends Her Great Run as Jennifer; But Not Before A ‘Wink-Wink’ Nudge-Nudge’ to AMC’s Dixie ‘Poison Pancake’ Debacle

Wednesday’s episode featured another solid performance by two-time Daytime Emmy-winner, Cady McClain as Jennifer Horton Devereux as it was the day of her mother, Laura’s (Jaime Lyn Bauer) funeral.

Last week, longtime viewers were saddened that the character of Dr. Laura Horton was killed-off.  The question remains did she fall accidentally and hit her head in a struggle with Gwen (Emily O’Brien), or did Gwen intentionally kill Laura?

Yesterday was also the final episode of McClain in the role of Jennifer – as far as know for now.   In story, following Laura’s funeral, Jennifer was heading to Boston to be with her brother Mike, to settle their mother’s estate and go through her belongings, etc.

Cady had taken over the role of Jennifer from Melissa Reeves, who chose to stay in Nashville during the Covid-19 pandemic.  As part of her departure, head writer, Ron Carlivati and the writing team, delivered a little wink-wink nudge-nudge to soap viewers and those of McClain’s time as Dixie Cooney Martin on All My Children.

In one of the most controversial soap death scenes of all-time, and one that was not kind to McClain, Dixie was killed-off the ABC daytime drama series after eating poison peanut butter pancakes. Fast-forward to 2021, and in an attempt to make DAYS Jennifer feel better, Julie (Susan Seaforth Hayes) whips up some banana pancakes with extra peanut butter!  When Jennifer declines them, Julie says she thought she liked them, to which Jennifer replied, “I used to.  But I had a bad experience with them once.  Now I can’t even look at them.”  Julie questions, “Bad experience?”  Then Jennifer says, “I’d rather not talk about it.”

In our books, McClain got the last laugh here getting to do a nod to the audience, who has followed her soap career for decades including the the 2007 killing of Dixie … by pancakes.

Previously, Cady shared in a 2020 interview with EW.com about the subject: “It was a dig at me by one of the writers that very much wanted to put me in my place. I had stepped out of line and they wanted to put me back in line, and I was going to eat those pancakes and I was going to learn my lesson, and I certainly did.”

So, what did you think of the mention of the ‘pancakes”? Will you miss Cady as Jennifer? Comment below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Emily O’Brien Delivers The ‘Power Performance of the Week’

She has been a polarizing character since her arrival in Salem, with some fans screaming Gwen is sucking up too much airtime.  HOWEVER, the performances by Emily O’Brien (Gwen) show an actress on top of her craft who can play, as Gwen called herself, “A miserable, vindictive bitch”, or a young woman so deeply-emotionally wounded that you might just come around and eventually feel some empathy for her.

Last week, while the soaps were pre-empted for most of the week due to the senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, DAYS posted all of its weekly episodes online on NBC.com, the NBC app, or on the Peacock streaming platform, and O’Brien’s work was a standout.

Photo: JPI

It all came to a boiling point when Laura (Jaime Lyn Bauer) and Gwen have the long-awaited confrontation in Gwen’s room at the Salem Inn, where O’Brien goes from Gwen baiting Laura to tell her dirty secret of her long-ago affair with Jack (Matthew Ashford), to her utter anger at how because of it, Laura trashed Gwen’s entire life.

 

Laura reveals the guilt she felt for sleeping with Jack, so much so, that she would do anything to save Jennifer (Cady McClain) and Jack’s marriage.  In delight at getting to the root of the truth, Gwen responds: “You slept with Jack? That is just perfect! My father slept with his mother-in-law!”

Then, Laura shares how it happened.  They were both at the “Meadows” finding their ‘truest selves’ and they were both using other names – she, Monica and he, Clark, and Laura had never seen a photo of Jack before to know it was him!  Gwen wants to burst out in hysterical laughter, but then she becomes filled with rage knowing that if Laura hadn’t bought off her birth mother, Tiffany, her own life would have been very different.  She goes on to say that she and Abigail (Marci Miller) might even be close as sisters, but instead of “borrowing her clothes, she borrowed her husband” alluding to sleeping with Chad (Billy Flynn).  Next, Gwen wants to make Laura pay and lets Laura know that, “All the damage that you did, can’t be undone.” When Laura tries to leave, Gwen stops her and says in no uncertain terms, “I want revenge, because you ruined my life and you’re not going to get away with it!”

Photo: JPI

Next, we see that there had been a struggle with Laura dead on the floor bleeding out of her head.  A freaked-out Gwen does not know what to do.  She realizes she will be accused of murder.  With no one in town to call, she decides to call her father, Jack.  When he shows up at the Salem Inn, Jack is shocked, and grief-stricken to see his mother-in-law, dead.  Gwen swears to Jack this was an accident and that she did not kill Laura, and that he has to believe her.  Jack decides he will stand by his daughter.  Gwen wants to get rid of the body, Jack says he can’t be involved in a cover-up, so he calls Rafe (Galen Gering).  When Rafe arrives at the crime scene he is very suspicious of Gwen, and takes her down to the station.

Scene after scene, O’Brien layered her performances with venomous and ominous undertones, illustrating a woman with so much emotional baggage who becomes desperate to save herself.  For all these reasons, Michael Fairman TV names Emily’s work, The Power Performance of the Week.

What did you think of Emily O’Brien’s key scenes? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Power Performance

Emily O’Brien as Gwen

Days of our Lives

Airdates: 2-9/10-2021

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