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Days Of Our Lives

The Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn Interview – Days of our Lives

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Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

They’re back! Two of the most beloved and memorable performers in soaps who were unceremoniously given their pink-slips in late 2008 (due at that time to budget cuts) are set to re-emerge on your daytime television screens in late September!  We can only be talking about Days of our Lives, Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn, as super heroine Dr. Marlena Evans Black, and super hero extraordinaire, John Black!

Hall and Hogestyn’s return is the cornerstone in which Days of our Lives is resetting the show and its canvas, while bringing in many familiar faces, blasts from the past, and modernizing the longest running scripted television show in the history of NBC in the process.  On-Air On-Soaps had the opportunity to talk to both Deidre and Drake to get their thoughts on the big return, the pressure that comes with it, what fans can expect, and a preview of what brings “Doc” and John back to Salem.  We also discuss with these durable veterans, who have seen it all and lived through the ups and downs of daytime, what they think the future holds for DAYS and for the troubled soap genre.

We have to say, this was a fantastic opportunity for us to reconnect with such familiar favorites, and it was just as they say, “like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes,” when conducting our interview, and hearing their voices.  Deidre, ever the slick professional filled with humor and grace, and Drake, one of the true gentlemen of the soap world who has had more curve balls thrown at him (and yes, that is a nod to his baseball days, too!) than any actor could ever imagine!

The motto over at DAYS for the summer leading into fall is, “Watch Now to See How We Change.”  And if all the hype and all the changes that are happening can put smiles across viewers faces, old and new, and make them want to tune-in again, then who better to kick things off, than Deidre and Drake.  So, here’s our chat with the ultimate pros!

MICHAEL:

First of all, I was kind of shocked to hear that you were coming back to DAYS after the last go-round and how the dust settled from that. Were you shocked?

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DRAKE:

You were shocked? I can guarantee you; you were not half as thrilled and shocked as I was.  I not only fell off a chair, I fell off a ladder! And that is the truth. That is fact!

MICHAEL:

Deidre, having been written off the show and then asked to return, was there any trepidation on your part to come back now?

DEIDRE:

Oh no!  I wrote a book called Deidre Hall’s Kitchen Close-up and I was on the road with our co-executive producer, Greg Meng, whom I have known casually while I was at DAYS previously. The experience was so replenishing and reassuring just dealing with him. There was just no question that I would want to come back, but a lot of things had to happen to make it comfortable and make it sensible for Drake and I to return. Greg had set a plan in motion that was frankly irresistible, and it really was about new writers and new producers that are just brilliant at what they do.

MICHAEL:

Drake, when I think of how many times DAYS has written you off, brought you back, morphed your character, and altered his mind… I thought, “And here we go again!” (Laughs) But, I was thrilled you will be back on-screen.  When they asked you to return, did you have any trepidation?

DRAKE:

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There was never any trepidation about coming back.  Everything kind of aligned. Well, first of all, I was invited to Ken Corday’s book signing of his memoir, and then the 45th anniversary celebration at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honoring DAYS.  Those were interesting moments for me because I got to play with the cast a little bit at Ken’s book signing, and then I got to see a lot of the crew at the 45th event. Different emotions come over you like, “Oh my gosh, it is so good to see you.  I love these people who I have not seen in forever.”   But then, I have to keep in mind and keep in check a tight rein on my heart, because I then have to put my toys away in a couple of hours. I did not get the next day to go back to work and see everybody.  I may never see them again. There were some very conflicting emotions with that.  I am still very emotionally attached to the show, but I was not physically part of the fabric anymore, and that was hard to deal with.  Kristian Alfonso (Hope), Alison Sweeney (Sami), Suzanne Rogers (Maggie), Peggy McKay (Caroline), and Joe Mascolo (Stefano) at the book signing, started a buzz with some people at DAYS, especially Greg Meng.  Then, I was invited to go out on one of the 45th anniversary book signings with Jim Reynolds (Abe) and Kristian Alfonso in Houston.  I sat next to Greg while we were signing books.  The turnout from the fans and the outpouring of emotion, and the hunger for wanting to see DAYS return to the romance, and the action/adventure, and the intrigue that was all apart of the 90’s, was missing in their lives.

MICHAEL:

And what did the fans says to you the most?

DRAKE:

They kept saying, “Drake!  Who do we talk to and get you back on the show?” And I said, “Well, I suppose you could start with the man right next to me!”  And Greg Meng, God bless him, put “post-its” on my jacket of how many people said that!  So I had my jacket looking like it had scales hanging off it.  I know Deidre was getting the same response, and Greg was taking it all in.  And this actually put a face on what was going on with the audience.  People were then able to tangibly talk to someone from DAYS that was in a leadership role, and Greg was there.  It was a real eye opener for me, and I was overwhelmed.  I thought, “Oh my gosh!  They still remember me?”  Once again, it was the grandmother, mothers and their children coming up to me in line.  And I was talking to Greg about how come DAYS has been on so many years; and that is because generations were passing on the torch.  A lot of viewers have left the show for whatever reason.  Now a lot of times, it’s because an emotional favorite has been taken off.  When Deidre and I return to the show, I can guarantee there will be a lot of television sets that will be turned back on.  And Michael, you know this better than anybody.  Once you have those television sets on, there are going to be other eyeballs that walk through the room.  And they are going to say, “Hey Grandma! Hey Mom! What are you watching?”  And I can tell you, if they watch from commercial to commercial, we are going to have the audience again, because right now we have the engaging story and we have the compelling actors.

Courtesy/NBC

MICHAEL:

Deidre, because you play this soap opera legendary character of Dr. Marlena Evans Black, and she is so beloved, did you have discussions or meetings with the writers before you agreed to tape a show?

DEIDRE:

I don’t have story approval nor would I want that. That is somebody else’s job. But meeting with the writers and hearing their theories about the show and what their fantasies were and what their direction was, I realized now it feels like one big solid team and a return to the core family values and the way the show was ten to fifteen years ago. Then, the people that tuned into the show couldn’t wait to see it, and wouldn’t want to miss an episode.  And, there were multi-generational families discussing it together.  That was what Days of Our Lives always was, and we got to return to it.  Everybody was on board for it with Greg Meng’s guidance and Noel Maxam’s supervision. It is, as I have said over and over again, truly DAYS 2.0.  It is a return to family the way they used to be.

MICHAEL:

Deidre, you are a very successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, and you have written books and diversified into a myriad of platforms and projects.  As someone who has been in daytime soaps for a very long time and has seen how the daytime landscape has evolved and dissipated, it has been hard for those of us in the field for any length of time to see how it’s been decimated, and most recently, with the cancellations of All My Children and One Life to Live.  Do you feel the same kind of thing for DAYS, and the genre in general, that this could be the last hurrah?

DEIDRE:

I think daytime had encountered a number of problems that bested a number of the shows and that is: there is very little revenue in daytime or any television shows anymore, and we are fighting the internet and cable and Netflix, and anybody or any entity that is offering up any type of programming.  And in order to compete, we needed to reinvent ourselves. And what Greg Meng and the prior administration had managed to do was produce a show that was smart, beautiful to watch, but affordable.  I would like to say there are other things that make a show stay on the air for a long time, but in this medium and market, the secret is that has to be affordable.  DAYS figured out a way to do it that did not compromise the quality of what went on the air.

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MICHAEL:

Are you speaking of how it worked at DAYS the last go-around, before you returned in 2011?

DEIDRE:

Well, the system had changed a lot of what I heard about, which was… we do it faster, it’s streamlined, and all the fat is cut away.  By that I mean, there is never waiting for an actor on set, there is never waiting for a prop, there is never, “let’s stop and re-light it”, and everybody arrives on stage with their best game in front of them. When that team all pulls together you can then do one fabulous scene after the next in the first take!  Could I have thought it could have been done this way?  No! (Laughs) I have to tell you I was apprehensive. We are just used to kind of floating around the stage and taking our time. (Laughs)  We also loved having the opportunity to put in a couple ad-libs and being really clever and playing jokes, but not anymore.

DRAKE:

DAYS is doing things right, getting the show in on time and under budget. Greg Meng and Noel Maxam are doing a fantastic job and it is like a great marriage.  Greg is up in the office and keeping the numbers correct, and Noel Maxam is down on the floor with his sleeves rolled up.  No more running back to the booth.  He is right there in your face, going faster and faster and getting it right.  The show looks fabulous and we are getting out of there at 5PM every single night, and shooting seven and a half to eight shows a week.  Back in the old days, we shot every singe day and shot four or more Saturdays a year to get two weeks off for the holiday!  We shot on Memorial Day and Labor Day; we did not get those days off.  We shot till 1AM in the morning and we would come back at 6AM.  I have ledgers that say I had 90-hour weeks!  Really!  So now this is a whole new ball game and the way to keep the show on the air.  If you are going to do a one-hour original show a day, this is the way to do it, and by God they are doing it…on time and under budget… and still with the stories the audience loves.

MICHAEL:

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But if I recall, Deidre, you are the kind of actress who really likes to “work” a scene, right?  So you can’t really do that as much now.  So do you just go to set and do your scene and get-out? (Laughs)

DEIDRE:

Well, we now work a scene ahead of time!  We are in the dressing room and we have a brilliant woman who is on staff full time and she gathers the specific actors together who come to our dressing room.  Her name is Maria, and I have to tell you, she is brilliant.  So by the time you step on stage, you have your moves and lines cold.

MICHAEL:

Drake, there must be some inherent pressure put on you and Deidre, to raise the ratings and viewership of DAYS, given the state of the industry and the downturn Deidre and I just spoke of.  What are your thoughts on this, having been a veteran in this genre for decades, from your vantage point?

DRAKE:

Michael, this is an interesting thought, if we could save the show.  I got a call from Jeff Zucker (former NBC President and CEO) my last week of work at DAYS, just to say “Thank you,” which was a really nice gesture.  I called him back, and after playing phone tag for a bit we finally spoke.  And we talked about the daytime genre, and the fact that he owned Passions and let it go, and the fact that he does not own Days of our Lives and where was it going, and how viable it was to the network at that point.  It was leading me to believe, and if I were reading between the lines correctly, that the show might not be long for the air.  But obviously, Jeff Zucker is now moving forward with Katie Couric, and could not bump General Hospital off the daytime canvas!  So I am kind of looking at that going, “Whoa! Is there an agenda there?  I don’t know.”  But the thing is, all shows are soap operas!  That is the way I look at it.  First and foremost, you must have story, story, story, for the audience.

MICHAEL:

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There is a big kick-off week starting on September 26th that resets Days of our Lives, which brings John and Marlena on-air and back to the Salem canvas.  And I also know, many familiar faces are also returning, and when taping these scenes en masse, you got to see some old co-horts.  Was there anybody or a moment when you went something like, “Oh my God!  I can’t believe I am seeing Patrick Muldoon (Austin)?”

DEIDRE:

Oh my God! You know those moments were more about my crew.  I traveled with Shawn Christian (Daniel) and Molly Burnett (Melanie), and we had so much fun on book tours, that to see them was like seeing someone you had done Summer Stock with, squealing and running and hugging!  I can tell you, we all fell in love with one another on the road…so that was a real treat; to finally be in that situation now with them at DAYS.  Traveling with Greg Meng, Shawn and Molly was like, “I know we were friends in a past life, because we all do the same job at different times,” but we just resonated to each other.  And Molly taught me how to tweet, oh my gosh!

MICHAEL:

I know you are on Twitter!  Who would have ever thought!  And isn’t it funny when you see the younger generation tweeting and being really cool about it? They know how to do it perfectly and get their thoughts out.  And then I watch people in my age group, and at first they don’t quite have the hang of it and it’s kind of humorous, because we are all so clumsy with it.

DEIDRE:

I was like, “Wow, the world is doing this!  What have I been doing?”  I have found people to be so responsive to my tweets.  It has been, great, great, great!

MICHAEL:

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I also am hearing there is a big umbrella story that kicks off the week of September 26th and John is a functioning man! (Laughs)  Last time we saw him he was paralyzed via syringe, and shipped off to Switzerland!

DRAKE:

It is the opening of the Horton Center, and they have a fabulous set, Michael.  It runs the whole width of NBC studios.  I mean, it’s not one of those sets you are going to tear down.  It has an open-door type of feel, with a plethora of stores that surround a semi-circle.  I hear the audience will be able to feel like they are going in and out of those stores.  And then you will have a reverse type of scene, where you can see the Horton Center from the back.  They are doing a lot of visual experimentation that is pretty exciting.  Now, when we last saw John he was a quadriplegic and he had gotten a whopping dose of a toxic syringe that went right to his spine, in an effort to save “Doc” from this not-half-bad-to-look-at psychiatrist. (Laughs)  But anyways, you know they had to rush him to Lugano, Switzerland because that clinic is the only one in the world that could save his life and work with him 24 hours around the clock!  Wow! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

When he comes back, will John be able to walk?  That is what is in the rumor mill.

DRAKE:

Well, when he comes back, you won’t know that right off the bat.  But, there is an “Ah-ha” moment there.  John is getting back the use of all of his extremities, but at that time there are other forces that have been waiting for him to arrive on American soil.  And that creates the next event that created that Umbrella storyline you are talking about, which defines all the characters in black and white.  And this is where our head writers, Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas are redefining the characters.  I remember when they worked under Jim Reilly several years ago.  I talked to Jim about sometimes the characters get muddied when you have plot driven storylines, and they do things that are out of character.  But we are doing very contemporary storylines now, and so everything we are doing is character driven.

MICHAEL:

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Trouble always follows John!  So one can assume he is a major catalyst here?

DRAKE:

Well, John is the Jason Bourne character.  And that is where, to this day; I always go back to that as my Bible…you know, the identity crisis.  And, who has he relied on over the years that he can trust?  And who doesn’t he trust?  And obviously, Stefano Dimera will always be at the center of that, and I have only had one small scene with Joe Mascolo so far.  But I can tell you; we have already set the table.  I am not sure how EJ will play into this, or how much he will be carrying the torch.  But in the back of my mind, I don’t forget the fact he shot me.  So that will always be there, and the fact that he comes across reptilian.  I keep that in the back of my mind, too.

MICHAEL:

Deidre, are you happy with the story that brings John and Marlena back to DAYS? As Drake hinted at, there is major story that brings the beloved duo back to the canvas!

DEIDRE:

Oh my Gosh.  I am beyond satisfied.  I did not fantasize that two writers could sit down and could create, day after day after day compelling television.  And Greg Meng had said to me, “What we want to do is create a great surprise in every show.  And we don’t just mean, ‘Oh my Gosh.’  We mean, ‘OH. MY. GOSH!’  And that is how I feel when I pick up a script. I find myself going, “We’re what?  Oh my Gosh!”  And it all goes so fast!

MICHAEL:

Is Marlena going to have new kind of “Marlena” problems? I mean, please confirm for us that there will not be the supernatural involved or serial killing!

DEIDRE:

There will be no science fiction and it will be no-nonsense.  What Darrell Ray Thomas and Marlene McPherson have created is storytelling that is about contemporary life.  And in our world right now, people are concerned about their mortgage, putting their kids through school, putting food on the table, putting the gas in their car, and they are scared senseless.  I don’t think that skips a generation or any place in our country.  So we end up without giving away storyline, having stories on our show that will feel very familiar, and taken from the headlines.  And no one is buried alive, and no one is wondering who the daddy is, and no one has been cloned.  It just is real life drama.

MICHAEL:

On that note, we have discussed John is getting his mind and body coordination back, but will he be of sound mind when he returns?  This time can you promise no brain alteration, chips, or warped personality change or confusion?

DRAKE:

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This is the romantic John, the protector and the hero.  He is working hard now to get himself back to 100%.  There are still some lingering things from the shots.  There was one piece of dialog that happens between Marlena and Lexie, where she says, “I am still worried about him.”  And she said, “Why? Because of his recovery?” And Marlena says, “It’s coming along OK, but he is restless at night and there are other issues.”  So I am not sure at all if they are going to touch upon that, or if it is a red-herring because of the event that is unfolding right now.  But as far as you know, I am the swashbuckling John that is coming back to save Salem from any “do-badders!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Finally, Deidre, can you speak to if John and Marlena are in a good place in their relationship when they return?  You know how many Jarlena fans are out there!

DEIDRE:

What is compelling about their story is; they are coming back more united, more joined and stronger, and more capable of facing anything together then they have ever been before. It is a deeper love story and a deeper love story of support, and you see it is the marriage you always wanted to have every day on the screen.

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Kim
Guest
Kim

Thank you so much. I love the DH’s and can’t wait to see them back on Days. Great interview!

Jasmine
Guest
Jasmine

Wonderful interview. Makes me more excited for September 26th!!!

Heather T
Guest
Heather T

This longtime viewer is tuning out midway through September -now “that’s a fact”!

Doreen
Guest
Doreen

Why? Are you disappointed they are coming back?How long have you been a fan?What is it that is making you tune out?

Heather T
Guest
Heather T

Almost 40 years of watching….real disappointed in KC latest decision of releasing CC to be honest. It was bad enough the first time around. He releases an Emmy winning actress that has been absolutely killing her storyline as of late.

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

While I was not a CC fan…she is a good actress and I think they could have made room for her and gotten rid of some of the Hernandez family and other useless actors. But with the return of J&M, Jack and Carrie and Austin I do believe that the show is returning to an amazing time. I want to the see the rating shoot them to #1!!! KC is a jerk and always was and always will be. He destroys characters and then dumps them. We understand how you are feeling. We went through that with J&M and it… Read more »

Waverly
Guest
Waverly

I’m excited when you post an interview Michael because the questions you ask always elicit engaging responses. Thank you for that. It’s encouraging to hear the enthusiasm Deidre and Drake have for the changes viewers will see in September. Knowing that the writers, directors, producers and actors are collaborating makes me feel confident that Days will delight fans once again. Character driven stories where we know consistency will be upheld is so important in keeping the trust of the audience. I’m definitely intrigued that they want to provide daily surprises and “Oh. My. Gosh.” moments! I can’t wait to see… Read more »

Beba K
Guest
Beba K

HOLY CRAP! this is making me even more impatient! Hurry up September 26th…!!

AlistairCrane
Guest
AlistairCrane

I am not excited for the “contemporary”, “character-driven”, “ripped-from-the-headlines” element if that is in fact the direction these writers go. If I wanted that kind of thing, I’d watch CNN. I prefer Days to be Gothic with elements of the supernatural mixed in. I hope I’m not disappointed….or I’ll quit watching!

Christie
Guest
Christie

Judging by your screen name, I’m guessing you were a Passions fan. They did a lot of that crap.

AlistairCrane
Guest
AlistairCrane

Not crap. Good soap.

Doreen
Guest
Doreen

I`am delighted John and Marlena are coming back it is about time.I was devastated when they were let go.Can`t wait to see them back on the show.

Cory
Guest
Cory

Another fabulous interview Michael!!!! (two thumbs up)
I just hope the whole show is better!!!! For ALL of the characters!!!!!
So I’ll give the new writers and their new story lines some time to play out. The worst I can do is tune out again right???

Maggie
Guest
Maggie

Great interview, Michael. It makes me excited for Days 2.0. I’m so curious to see the changes the new writers bring. I’m pleased that the characters I’ve loved who were sacrificed for plot-point writing will be restored. Excellent move! And I can’t wait to see the big event and subsequent umbrella plot. Here’s to restoring the Days I loved!

Jules
Guest
Jules

Thank you for the wonderful interview. The millions of J&M fans are so excited about their return to the screen. I AM MOST DEFINITELY ONE OF THEM! Thanks again!

Jules

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

I am beyond excited!!!! Stopped watching days when they put all those 20 something horrible actors on the show and turned into the Sami Brady show!!! Class and good acting is returning to days. Character driven storylines which is what good soap opera is all about….finally!!!! I have watched Days since day one in 1965 and now i can come home again in September!!!

nancy
Guest
nancy

also an avid Days fan since ’65!! watched through out the ups and downs and am now soooo excited about the return of not only marlena and john but also jack!!

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

It will be fun Nancy!!!! The Days I loved and grew up with is coming back….

Tricia
Guest
Tricia

I really think Sami Brady and Rafe along with that storyline have been very interesting and it has kept Days as good as it is today. If some of the crazy antic that were done could have been taken out, it sure could have been a lot better. Allison Sweeney is a good actress and I like her character as Sami and hope that they continue this. I also am glad that some of the past characters are returning to Days, but really sorry to see Carly go. It could have went different for her storyline-I hated seeing her become… Read more »

Angie
Guest
Angie

Thanks for this awesome article! I am so excited John and Marlena are coming back! I haven’t watched Days since they left. I’ll start again on September 26th!

Joyce Hightower
Guest
Joyce Hightower

I have been waiting for 2 years to hear that Drake is coming back as John Black on Days. I think he and Marlena will be the next Tom & Alice. I am ready for some of the romance that they had before they left. Thank goodness you have come to your senses and brought them back. Drakes # 1 Arkansas Fan

KESM
Guest
KESM

Sounds good! I can’t wait till Sept 26! I really hope they get John ,Marlena & Jack right. I also hope they can balance the stories with the whole cast throughout the whole year and someone does not have to disappear for 2 months the way Peter did April/May 2010 because they did not want to go over budget.

Penny
Guest
Penny

Glad to see all the old ones come back except for one. Was never a fan of Jack..sorry was boring. I am so glad to see that Victor & Maggie together..YEA love them. Have watched for a long long time can’t miss it. Just wish they would kind of stop the scene’s with everyone has to have a drink in there hand. This is really getting to be a drunk town. TO MUCH ALCOHOL.

RJ
Guest
RJ

Looking forward to the change – the drama, romance, adventure, action, but with real life 21st century characters, storylines, and issues (no more RoboRafe’s). I have not watched Days in awhile now, but I hope that it will be good, so I will want to watch again. Thanks for a good interview, Michael. Thanks for doing the interview Deidre and Drake. Good Luck to Days and all the actors. I hope it will really improve and have engaging storylines and compelling characters, so it will be successful again.

Jules
Guest
Jules

Fantastic interview. Thanks for sharing.

rob lail
Guest
rob lail

Finally, back to the core that made this show unstoppable in the mid 80’s and early 90’s
This is great.

Lucille Ramella
Guest
Lucille Ramella

I have always adored Deidre and Drake I met them in person at luncheons in their honor! They are such beautiful looking people, Drake actually sat on my lap I was so embarrassed but thrilled at the same time! I have pictures with him and I. He is so handsome and fun! I have pictures with Deidre also! They are such a super couple, the best of the best! I’ve been counting the days until their return on Sep. 26th like many of us fans are doing! I started watching the show back in the early 70’s and it has… Read more »

MAR
Guest
MAR

Glad to see John (Drake) and Marlena (Dee) back. They are the best. Their chemistry clicks together like no other television couple. I have been watching them as a couple since the beginning. They show you what romance is all about. They have me watching the show again. Please keep them together.When they left, I didn’t have interest in the show. Welcome back!!!!!!

Days Of Our Lives

Who is DAYS Gwen Really? What is Her Vendetta Against Abigail All About?

We have a new psycho in Salem, and she is played to perfection by Emily O’Brien who has been bringing her brand of quirky evil to the NBC soap opera as Gwen.  Soap fans, of course, remember her as Jana Hawkes on The Young and the Restless from 2006-2011.

Ron Carlivati and his DAYS writing team certainly have some tricks up their sleeve where Gwen is concerned as viewers recently found out she was behind slipping Abigail (Marci Miller) the drug months ago causing her hallucinations.

Photo: JPI

But Gwen is even much darker than we think, when several key clues and moments were revealed on Friday’s episode of DAYS when she went to visit her conspirator in prison, Dr. Rolf (William Utay).

During the exchange, we learn Gwen has been getting the mind-altering drug from one of Dr. Rolf’s concoctions.  She reveals to him that their plan has hit the proverbial snag.  The drug did not dismantle Abigail as she had hoped.  We also learn while she was in the mental institution – Bayview – that is how she tracked Rolf down by researching the drug he had created.

And it appears, Rolf hates Abigail too, citing he always saw her as  thorn in Stefano’s side.  It is then Gwen says he wants another dose of the drug to “melt Abby’s brain!”  Rolf says without anyone else to take the fall for it, he can’t come up with it.

He suggests to her to alter her plan and to instead destroy Abigail’s life piece by piece … and go for the long game instead of the short term – take everything that is near and dear from her including her husband, children, home, everything.

But, what does come to light is that even Dr. Rolf does not know why Gwen wants to destroy Abigail.  That is when Gwen shares she has very good reason to hate Abigail, and he, along with everyone else, will find out why when the time is right.

So, what are your theories?  Who is Gwen?  Is she a character with plastic surgery?  Could she be a sister no one knew Abigail had?  A former mental patient who Abby knew when she was getting help a few years back? And what is her gripe with Abigail all about?  Comment below!

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Days Of Our Lives

Kassie DePaiva, Nathan Purdee & Taylor Purdee Talk ‘Killian & The Comeback Kids’, One Life to Live & Eve’s Reign of Terror on DAYS

It’s ‘all in the family’ + a dear friend that makes the film Killian and the Comeback Kids something that soap fans will want to see. In it, daytime veterans, Kassie DePaiva (Ex-GL, OLTL, GH and Days) and Nathan Purdee (Ex-Y&R and OLTL) are featured in the new movie directed, written and starring Nathan’s talented son, Taylor.

One Life to Live fans will get a kick out of that Kassie and Nathan play a married couple in the film.  In story, a millennial (Taylor A. Purdee) comes home to live with his parents in a depressed rural town after getting a college degree in the big city. The film illustrates the issues facing many of America’s youth today, which could not be more apropos for the times we are living with many children moving back in with their parents. However, the movie shares an uplifting message filled with original music from Taylor’s folk-rock band, The Cumberland Kids.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Kassie, Nathan and Taylor to get the inside scoop on: collaborating together on this project, revisiting Llanview with some memories and thoughts on the cancellation of the beloved soap, plus Kassie’s last turn on Days of our Lives as an unhinged Eve Donovan – a performance that just may garner attention come Daytime Emmy time next year.

This conversation was filled with candor, humor, and a parent’s love for their child. Killian and the Comeback Kid is playing in selected theatres and dates including tonight Friday, September 25th in Atlanta, and October 2nd in Chicago. For more movie info go to the film’s website here And now here’s what Kassie, Nathan and Taylor shared.

Photo: KarmicReleaseLTD

I was really intrigued by the film. Taylor, how did you lure your dad to be in the movie?

TAYLOR:  Oh my gosh, it was the craziest negation ever.

I bet! (Laughs)

TAYLOR:  When I was a kid, Roberta, my mom, made me promise to always write him roles.  So, it was kind of obligatory.

KASSIE:  That is so funny!

TAYLOR:  It’s true.

Had you met Kassie before, or was this the first time? 

TAYLOR:  I knew Kassie from when my dad and her were doing One Life to Live together.   Five years before I was filming this movie, Nathan texted me, “Hey!  Kassie and Jim (DePaiva) are right by your dorm room.  You should go see them!”  So, catching up as an adult was so nice.  I had a non-parentally controlled grown-up hang-out with her.

Photo: KarmicReleaseLTD

What was the journey this film, Killian and the Comeback Kids, went on as far as from the writing of it, to production, to its completion?

TAYLOR:  Well, the front half was surprisingly quick.  I think writing it through to having it finished was about 18 months, and there were about 6 months of, “how’s it going to come out,” and then, we thought we knew what was going to happen, and we were all getting ready for it to hit in movie theatres in the spring when the world ended, and that’s how we got here three years later.

Nathan, tell me about the role you play; because Kassie and you are husband and wife in the film.

NATHAN: Well, yeah, you kind of covered it! (Laughs)  I play her husband, and she plays my wife, and I appreciated the casting situation.  It’s interesting how Taylor chose Kassie because he did say that he wanted someone who was close to his mom’s personality.  I couldn’t think of anybody else other than Kassie because the only difference is Kassie is taller, but they both are such loving, caring people.  They always want to mother you and make sure you’re fed, and you’re safe, and you’re happy, and neither one of them knows the word, “no,” when it comes to the people who they’re taking care of.  I love Kassie anyway, so good for me.

KASSIE:  Yeah, they cut our love scene, and I don’t know what that’s about. (Laughs)

Kassie, what do you remember from when you first met Nathan?  You were at One Life, right?

KASSIE:  No, when I first met Nathan, we were in San Antonio, and we were doing an appearance.  I met Bobbie Eakes (Ex-Krystal, AMC and Macy, B&B) for the first time then too, but I was on The Guiding Light, and I was singing, and Nathan was there.  Nathan and I sat beside each other.  I honestly felt like I had known Nathan my entire life.  We were drinking margaritas and talking, talking, talking, talking, talking, talking.

NATHAN:  Yep!

Photo: JPI

KASSIE:  Nathan and my husband, Jim are very good friends.  I have to say, Nathan was so lovely when I was going through my cancer journey.  He came to see me every week, sometimes twice a week when I was in the hospital, and he would come up, and he would hang out with Jim.  I will never, ever forget how lovely he was (it makes me tear up right now) to be there with support for my husband and myself as we went through that.  So, when Nathan asked me to be his wife in the film, I thought, “Well, hey, you practically live with me now, so that sounds good.”

So, Taylor, how did they do on-screen as husband and wife?

TAYLOR:  They’re fantastic.  We’ve only had one test screening, but one of the most consistent things audiences tell me is that they’re not just great together, but they each have such a quiet, brooding depth to them that you can’t help but imagine the back-story that they’re not talking about

KASSIE:  That’ll be the sequel!

TAYLOR:  Killian and the Comeback Kids 2: They Comeback Kids Comeback.

KASSIE:  They’ll come back again!

NATHAN:  Thanks for planting that seed in his head, Kassie.

Photo: KarmicReleaseLTD

TAYLOR:  It was important for me to try to synthesize a mixed-race couple.  So, it was really great to be able to have them, not just be so great together, but there was also the issue of we had to have a little girl who looked like she could not just be my sister, but also both of their daughter.  Creating a family from scratch was great because Nathan and Kassie already had the rapport.

Did you watch them on One Life to Live together? 

TAYLOR:  Yeah!  I was in school most of the time, but I would go to set, and over the last 10 years, friends would send me YouTube clips from the show because for some reason none of the soaps are streaming.  There’s not like a soap Netflix!  It kind of needs to happen!  Soaps, they’re epic; there are decades worth of episodes and shows.

Photo: KarmicReleaseLTD

In this film, music is the backdrop.  It’s your music and your band that is featured?

TAYLOR:  Yeah, my best friend growing up and I were staring to write folk music around the time when I was deciding what script I wanted to make into a film.  We wrote the soundtrack, all the music that people sing, and the underscore, which was surprisingly the most fun part of it all.

Kassie what did you think of Taylor’s music?

 ASSIE:  I think it’s wonderful.   I love music. It’s totally in the heart of me, and I just think that this movie is so timely. Kids these days are having to deal with not knowing what their future is going to be.  In the film, my son comes home, and he is trying to find himself, and he throws himself into his art and his music.  I just think there are a lot of people right now who are going through that.  I think it is extremely relatable, even more so than when you wrote it, Taylor.  I think people are looking for some type of connection, and I think this little movie is a good start.  It’s about people pulling together, and it’s got a strong rooting factor, and you want people to succeed, and it is great.  It takes you on a really nice journey.

You have some dates coming up where the film will play in a movie theatre- one is on September 25th in Atlanta and then another one on October 2nd in Chicago.  Taylor, how do you feel about making appearances for the film during the pandemic? You’re going with masks on? 

TAYLOR:  Oh yeah.  We will be in a bubble; we are just getting into a car and sticking together.  I and John Donchak, who plays opposite me through the whole film, are going to all of those dates, and my co-songwriter, who also appears in the film, will be in Atlanta, if not at both premieres.

NATHAN:  And let me add, please, they’re going against my wishes as a parent, but he is 28- years-old, so all I can say is that we are hoping for the best because we want him to be safe.  He is very determined and passionate about it, so he’s got our support.

Photo: KarmicReleseLTD

Taylor, in your story, why does Killian come home and live with his parents? 

TAYLOR: His plan at the time is that he has just graduated from a pricey university, and he is supposed to go off with his bandmate on a modest music tour.  He comes home to get his stuff and see his parents after graduating, but his bandmate drops out, and so the plan falls apart, and that’s how he gets stuck in this town and everything is just kind of falling apart. The plan that he had for his life after college gets pulled out right out from under him.

Photo: Getty

Nathan, when Kassie and you were on One Life for years, you weren’t there when it ended, as you had already left the show.  How did you feel upon learning it had been canceled by ABC?

NATHAN:  I was so disconnected by that time.  I just knew it was ending, and it wasn’t the first soap to go.  I saw it happening when the other shows started being canceled due to, I could be wrong about this, but I put the blame on reality TV.  By that point I had moved on in my personal and private life.  I was doing a lot of theatre then, traveling back and forth from North Carolina, really trying to keep busy, and fighting off the depression of not working full-time.  I missed Jim and Kassie the most, but I was thrilled that I could bump into them at any time and visit with them.  I kept in touch with Hillary B. Smith (Ex-Nora) and Bob Woods (Ex-Bo) and also, Timothy Stickney (Ex-RJ); in fact, Timothy Stickney’s wife did Taylor’s hair for the film.

Photo: JPI

Kassie, how do you feel years later about the cancellation of One Life to Live?

KASSIE:  I still miss it.  I loved it. The hard part about this show in particular being canceled is –one – that there wasn’t closure on it.  It kind of happened randomly, and there was still a lot more story to tell.  They kept it going on General Hospital, where they’ll bring some characters there.  So, it’s still in peoples’ minds. The second part is the friendships and the family connections that you’ve made over the many years that you’re there. Nothing lasts forever, that’s for sure, but as you were saying, there’s no streaming of these shows, but if you catch an episode on YouTube, One Life to Live, truly stands alone.  It just has great stories, great characters, and there is connection there that is very real.

Kassie, your last go-around at DAYS was just epic.  Did you guys see it?

TAYLOR:  I did see pieces of some of it.  I caught some of the “super villain”!

Photo: JPI

Eve went in guns blazing, evil as all get out, but so heartbreaking at the same time while she was torturing Ben (Rob Scott Wilson).  What did you think about all of that, Kassie?

KASSIE:  I was really hesitant to watch it because I remembered how “super villain” I was.  I remember getting on the plane, and Jimmy said, “How was it?” and I said, “I’ll probably never work again a day in my life. I’m like this (evil laughs) muah-ha-ha, muah-ha-ha kind of character.”  I mean, you hated what Eve was doing, and you were supposed to, but I think that they did a great job with production values, and it was reasonable what she was doing because she was going off the edge. It’s great to be able to sink your teeth into something that is so out-there and completely different from your own life.  I mean, it was exhausting.  Every day, I would come home and just be like, “Oh my God, give me a cocktail.” Eve had justification for her revenge, even as wrong as it was, and she needed to be heard, and she needed closure, and she made a bunch of wrong moves, and did a bunch of bad, bad, bad things, and now, she is probably in a mental institution somewhere, so…

You and I were on set of DAYS and I was going to interview you.  If I recall, at that point, you did not even know what the story arc was.

KASSIE:  No, I didn’t. When I arrived and looked at the script, I’m like, “Well, who blew up that wedding?”  Then, all of the sudden, “Oh, no!  I blew up the wedding.  This is bad!  I probably am not going to be coming back on this show again.”  I look at story and go, “Uh-oh.  There’s a shut door.”  I like open doors and open windows.

Photo: JPI

Taylor, what is your project? Are you continuing to write?  What do you see in the future for yourself?

TAYLOR:  This is my life for me.  The next thing that I think we are releasing is actually something that I made before this because everything is backwards, which is a documentary (very different) about Central American politics, which I’m hoping is out next year.  In terms of new scripts, everybody is a bit torn.  I kind of want to do a biopic of Lee Grant, or I want to do a blues/punk version of something inspired by The Shining.

Well, those are very polar opposite!

TAYLOR:  Yeah, aren’t they?

NATHAN:  Now you see what I’m living with. (Laughs)

Photo: IMDB

Nathan, you must be proud of Taylor, and it must be very cool to see your son have these multi-faceted talents.

NATHAN:  Of course, I’m proud of him and it’s great, but it’s strange because watching Taylor develop into the person he has developed into and continues to, made me realize that I hadn’t had the type of courage he has.  I had my dreams and certain things that I was very courageous about in my life.  I certainly don’t see him doing some things the way I did them, because he has more common sense than I do when it comes to life choices. His courage just blows my mind.  Most of my closest friends are professional musicians, and many of them, if I were to namedrop, you would know who they are, and they’ve had successful careers, and I’ve always looked up to them and admired them, but I was never that guy.  I just wanted to be a musician because I knew them and we were friends, but I didn’t have the discipline to do what they did, and I certainly didn’t have the God-given talent.  I play a little bit of keyboard and a little bit of saxophone myself, but I have to play one song 757 times before I even start to feel comfortable with it, and Taylor can sit down and start strumming on his guitar, and the next thing you know, he’s written a whole song.  It just blows my mind how creative and talented he is.  He has been surrounded by creative and talented people all of his life. He has absorbed a lot from the different people and the different opportunities he’s had, and I look at him sometimes, and I even say it to my wife, “Who is this kid?”  I like to share this story.  We went to see Taylor do Hamlet.  I’m guessing he was 15 or 16-years-old at the time. I’m watching him doing Hamlet, and I’m sitting in the chair, and I’m crying because I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, my God, he is so good!”  I told Taylor, “I would not tackle Hamlet on a football field, yet alone on stage.”  It made me realize that we had a force to be reckoned with.  He’s pretty amazing.  The bad news for him is that I always tell him the truth, and I lied to him once, and he called me out on it, and I promised that I would never lie to him again.  So, be careful what you ask me because I will tell you the truth from this point on.

Photo: KarmicReleaseLTD

KASSIE:  Taylor was also the director of this film, which I mean, “What the hell!”  This guy is doing everything.  He was deciding on the shots, he was deciding on the lighting, he was deciding this and that, he was editing the script, I’m like, “Holy cannoli!”  He’s like, “No, I want her to wear that shirt; I want her to do this.”  You would do the scene, and he’d come over and talk to you a little bit.  I mean, he was just awesome; Taylor brought so much insight to my character because I’m like, “What’s my relationship, and who are all of these kids?  Are we a loving family?”  We did it very quickly, too.  Taylor, look at what you’ve accomplished, and it is such a beautiful piece of art!

TAYLOR:  From a more functional standpoint as a director, one of the really great things about having the two of them was that Kassie came in half-way through filming, and we’d been working with the young actor/musicians a lot.  Some of them, it was their first big job, but pretty much all of them had worked before.  On Kassie’s first day, they didn’t know what they were in for.  She just rolled onto set, and all of the sudden, the stakes and bar of how to be an actor just changed.  From that point on, when Kassie and Nathan started to work with the band, we knew those were going to be fun days because there was going to be acting involved.  Everyone else just had to come up to their level, which was great for me because it gave me so much more to edit with.

Taylor, who are your musical influences?   

TAYLOR:  That’s a really good question.  My musical obsession for the last few years has been this guy, named Josh Ritter, who is kind of a singer/songwriter/folk guy.  My real-life band, The Cumberland Kids, is named after one of his songs.  Also, Weird Al Yankovic, has been a massive inspiration for me and my songwriting partners.

So, your vibe is this folk-rock.

TAYLOR:  Yeah, that’s what I’m writing mostly.  My listening is kind of all over the place, but definitely that is what I’m writing.

Kassie, who do you like listening to?

KASSIE:  It all depends on what cocktail I have in my hand.

Photo: JPI

NATHAN:  Let me chime in on that too! I like jazz, blues, and country music, but imagine what my house was like because I have a lot of instruments here, always with the hope that Taylor would at least become interested in music.  I have congas, bass guitar, keyboards, you name it, and for a while, he wasn’t interested at all, and one day, I woke up and he was playing an acoustic guitar.  Then, the next thing I know, he is writing and singing folk music.  I’m thinking, “Wait a minute!” It was an important lesson for me that just because you want something for your children, doesn’t mean that is what they want for themselves.  We never pushed acting on Taylor.  He chose it on his own.  It’s exciting for me mostly because it was his choice.

KASSIE:  He’s a natural.

And speaking of that, Taylor, in the trailer nothing came across forced or pushed.  Obviously, we are all talking you up here, not that you need it.

NATHAN:  I’ll tell you this, Michael.  During the shoot, Taylor insisted on calling me “Nathan”, and I had a problem with it, but he basically told me to get over it because it’s his set, his movie, and while we are shooting, I’m “Nathan”, and he’ll call me dad later.  I’m still struggling with that but he was the boss.

TAYLOR:  It’s hard to walk that line and not make it weird for your crew, you know?

NATHAN:  I get it.

Photo: KarmicReleaseLTD

KASSIE:  It’s weird for me because when he would go, “Robbie is going to do this, and Nathan is going to do that,” I’d go, “Who are Robbie and Nathan?  Aren’t they your mom and dad?”

TAYLOR:  While I was writing the script I called him over, and I said, “Dad, I wrote you a really good role, and I think we are actually going to do this.  I’m giving you a once in a lifetime chance to name your own character.  Do you want to name him after a Greek hero, or one of your siblings?”  He didn’t take his chance.  So, you know what?  It’s “Nathan” now.  It’s easier for everybody.  We don’t have to break the method acting fourth wall.  (Laughs)

Do you think you would work with Nathan and Kassie again? (Laughs)

TAYLOR:  Oh, my God, are you kidding?

NATHAN:  That’s my contract: Kassie has got to be in it.  So, let me say this about Kassie, you had mentioned something about how much she has been working, and I look at Kassie as the James Brown of daytimes soaps.  She is the hardest working woman in daytime television. 

Photo: JPI

She is pretty spectacular. Kassie started on Guiding Light, had a long career on One Life, and then went to General Hospital, then to Days of our Lives.  It’s been amazing that we have been able to see her have a comeback in more ways that one.

KASSIE:  Nathan has jumped from soap to soap as well, and when you’ve done it, you just think it’s over.  It’s not like your regular acting profession jobs when you go out and you know you’re going to audition for twenty-five things and get one role for a short amount of time.  When you go in day in and day out and are creating all of this stuff on a soap opera, and then it ends, you go, “Well, now what am I supposed to do?”  I haven’t been on a set in 6 months, and I feel like I won’t ever work again.  Soaps are just a totally different head trip and so it can be really hard.

Courtesy/ABC

Nathan, do you have a favorite Hank Gannon moment from One Life to Live?

NATHAN:  Oh wow.  Man, there were so many of them.  I can tell you the funniest, to me, maybe not so funny to Hillary B. Smith though.  I think it was during a live show. This was during the time when I had a lot of dialogue.  But this particular day, I had one line, and the line was to Hillary and it was, “How are you feeling?” and her response was, “Well, I’m feeling the way I always feel, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”.  So, during the entire day, I’d see Hillary, and I’d say, “Hey, how you feeling?”  Maybe nineteen times before we started shooting, “Hey, how you feeling?” and she’d had about enough of it.  So, fast forward to “5, 4,3,2,1 action”, and now, I say, “How you doing?”  If you could see the look in her eyes, it is like, “I will kill you.”  So, she says, “You know how I’m doing.  I’m doing what I’m always doing,” so she could get her line out.  So, once again, she saved Nathan’s ass with that.  One stupid line … and I blew it.  I just remember that one because I just know Hilary wanted to strangle me.  She probably still wants to.

And on that note (laughs) I wanted to thank you all so much for this. I hope you find success with this little gem of a film, Taylor.

So what did you think of the comments made by Kassie, Nathan and Taylor on their film?  What did you think of Kassie’s recent performance on DAYS? What’s your favorite Blair or Hank moment from the history of One Life to Live? Share your thoughts and comments below,  But first, check out the trailer to Killian and the Comeback Kids.

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Days Of Our Lives

Greg Vaughan Shares Farewell To DAYS & Scene Partner Arianne Zucker: “Never a Dull Moment, Laughing or Crying, She was the Party, Always with a smile!”

Tuesday’s episode of Days of our Lives had Eric Brady saying a sudden farewell to his loved ones before he departs Salem for Africa to help those in need.  That marks the on-screen departure of Daytime Emmy winner, Greg Vaughan who will last be seen on Wednesday’s episode.

As DAYS fans were aware, Greg wrapped his run months ago on the NBC daytime drama series, but since before the Covid-19 pandemic DAYS taped almost seven months ahead, Eric’s on-screen exit is airing this week.

Over the past two days, Vaughan took to his Instagram to share some sentiments, ‘thanks you’s’ and some photos of some of his favorite memories with his castmates expressing, “Seeing it’s the last week I’m airing on @nbcdays …I wanted to share some great captured memories this week with my incredible fans & castmates.”

The actor also posted a special photo album of pics with his longtime on-screen partner and love interest, Arianne Zucker (Nicole).  In that, he posted this message: “To my Ride or Die partner Ari!! Never a dull moment, laughing or crying, she was the party, always with a smile! Love ya #ERICOLE”

So, will you miss Ericole? Are you sad to see Greg exit Days on-screen? Share your thoughts via the comment section below … AND what were some of your favorite performances of Greg during his time on DAYS.

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B&B’s Jacqueline MacInnes Wood deliver the Power Performance of the Week as Steffy’s drug addiction leads to a confrontation and intervention by her loved ones with dire consequences.  Here is the last seven minutes that featured Emmy-winner Wood at her best. Leave A Comment

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The Bold and the Beautiful

Airdate: 9-25-2020

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