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The Hillary B. Smith Interview – One Life to Live

Courtesy/ABC

If you have been witness to the shenanigans and skullduggery being perpetrated in Llanview over the last several weeks, you know that everyone’s favorite couple, Bo and Nora, have been victims of a well-calculated series of events, thanks to Clint Buchanan with an able assist from the now deceased Eddie Ford and Inez Salinger!  Everything was orchestrated to drive a wedge and destroy the marriage of Llanview’s’ most loveable duo, after the couple had a lover’s spat about their past.  From kidnapping Nora, to bogus text messages, to blackmailing Inez to sleep with Bo, Clint pulled all the strings, but then some things went amiss, namely Eddie was found murdered!

On-Air On-Soaps caught up with one of our all-time favorite actresses, Daytime Emmy winner Hillary B. Smith (Nora Hanen Buchanan) to shed some light on the machinations that has given her some frontburner material including scenes where Eddie almost raped her, and later, when Rex finds her tied-up, bound and gagged to a chair in a motel room. So where will the story go from here?  Will Bo and Nora have a Happy New Year?  Is what broke them up ten years ago (Nora slept with Sam Rappaport) going be the same thing that breaks them up now, even though it’s not true, and this time it’s Bo who believes he cheated on Nora?  Hillary fills us in.  But, we can tell you that right after Christmas look for some major developments in Bo and Nora’s relationship, when certain truths may come out sooner than later.

Hillary also chats about her scene-stealing role as Guya on Crystal Chappell’s hit web series Venice, and the opportunity to work with her on-screen love interest there, Days of our Lives star Shawn Christian (Daniel).  Plus, we get some more information and insight into Hillary’s beloved project to help pet owners and their dogs, The Willee-Coppee Fund.  Finally, we get Hillary’s thoughts on Nora’s Best Moments of 2010 and her hopes for her alter ego in the New Year.  Without further ado, here’s Hillary! 

MICHAEL:

Over the past week, you have gotten some great story to play. The scene where Rex comes to find Nora in the motel room, where Eddie Ford held her captive, was one of those great Hillary B. Smith moments.  Nora’s reactions to the situation were so right on, in lieu of the fact that Eddie almost raped her.  Did you see your performance?

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HILLARY:

I saw it on the air and it was very real.  Here we are.  Nora is tied to a chair and jibber-jabbering. Then, when Rex goes to reach for the knot on her coat to help untie her, I thought, “Wouldn’t I bat his hands away?”  So Jill Mitwill, who is our director said, “Just do it and let’s see what happens.”  So we did it and it became this big moment.  It really grounded Rex, and it became a really beautiful moment between two people who have always cared about each other.  It was just was one of those moments you can’t quite put into words that would never happen between them ever again, and would not have happened between them, except under these circumstances.

MICHAEL:

What do you think of the change to the dark side of Clint, played brilliantly by Jerry verDorn?  I mean, it is Clint that is truly Bo and Nora’s worst enemy and they don’t even know it yet!

HILLARY:

Well, thank God, because it’s really given all of us something to do! (Laughs) Jerry verDorn is so interesting because he says all these horrible things, and does all these horrible things pretty much in the same way as he says, “Good Morning” and “Would you like some coffee?”  I think its right, and at some point it had to happen because Clint was humiliated and he will never forget that.  And then Jerry jokes around the set saying, “Bring Kim back and everything will be fine.”  I think he is doing some great, great work.  It does give you a chill down your spine, doesn’t it, when you watch him?

MICHAEL:

When you found out that Bo and Nora were going to be manipulated by circumstances via Clint so soon after they had just gotten back together after all these years, what went through your mind?  “I can’t believe they are trying to break us up after all we went through to reunite.” Or, did you think, “Good.  Frontburner story.”

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HILLARY:

Well they didn’t say, “This is what we are going to do.”  We sort of took it one step at a time and when they brought Inez in, I thought, we just got married and they are bringing someone else back in?  And, I think that is what the audience thought, too. Then my thought was, “Are we going back to the Georgie days where Inez would have this irrational crush on Bo?”  So, I think bringing Clint in, and that Nora is the one that pushed Inez and Clint together, I think is really interesting.  And then to have Clint turn around and use Inez against Nora is an interesting twist of the knife for Clint.  He would be thinking, “Oh, now Nora is trying to set me up with this girl?  Well, great!  I will use her.”  I think it makes more sense for Inez to come in and not arbitrarily worm her way into this relationship, and that Clint is actually using her kids against her.  I don’t know how they are going to redeem Clint, or deal with this, or if they ever will!  But we were not privy to any of this. We just opened our scripts and read it as we went along. Remember we shoot scenes very much out of order. We really jump ahead and jump behind.  You kind of have to go with faith.

MICHAEL:

You know what I thought when she went missing last week? (Laughs)  I thought what if Colin or Troy McGiver, and Lindsay Rappaport took her again!  Maybe it was a clever bit by head writer, Ron Carlivati, doing homage to that OLTL classic.  Nora is always disappearing at least once every decade!  (Laughs)

HILLARY:

(Laughs)  You will see why, and it’s very interesting the way they set that up. Nora does not remember where she was. All she knows is that she went off to get help and when she came to she had collapsed in the woods, and made her way back to the accident site. I think it’s important that the audience knows that there is this missing chunk of time.  Then, when I got back to the accident site, Bo is there and he knows something is not right, because he found my ring. Then, I am trying to piece together where I was and what I was doing, and to tell Bo about Eddie Ford.  And meanwhile, he knows that Eddie Ford is dead.

MICHAEL:

And he has yet to tell her his guilt over what he believes he did, which was sleep with Inez! Oh, poor Bo! Poor you!

HILLARY:

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You know, we are a very honest couple. Do you think he will tell me?

MICHAEL:

Yes I do, eventually!

HILLARY:

He should eventually tell me, but he doesn’t after the first opportunity to do so! So that makes everything worse.

MICHAEL:

And Nora will be rocked to the core, and then God knows, what she will do.

HILLARY:

First of all, she has just told Bo that Eddie tried to have her, and she says, “He didn’t rape me, but he tried to.”  Bo is just beside himself, and then when he says, “I have something to tell you,” I don’t think she has a clue where he is going with it.

MICHAEL:

So Nora still believes that after all those horrible text messages sent by Eddie, that Bo did not act on anything.  But, they were awful messages for any person in love with someone to receive!

HILLARY:

Why would you think if you sent somebody a text message that said, “Oh, by the way, I want you to sleep with that woman,” that they would?  That is where Nora is at.  She is in a fog and she has decided that all of this is a terrible nightmare, and that she really just wants to get away from it.

MICHAEL:

Do you think (A) Nora could be a prime suspect in Eddie’s killing? Or, (B) become involved in the court case as an attorney?

HILLARY:

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I think it is really interesting there is a period of time that is unaccountable, and I think they have very carefully put that there.

MICHAEL:

Eddie Alderson (Matthew) now has a subtle turn to the dark side, too, thanks to the influence of Clint.  How do you think Eddie is doing playing this new version of Matthew?  I think he’s doing a terrific job!

HILLARY:

I think it’s great and makes sense, because Clint has been such a constant in Matthew’s life.  Clint was the great uncle before Nora and he got together.  Matthew loved Clint. Then when Nora and he got married, Matthew was there with thumbs up.  And, Matthew felt very much betrayed at first, when Nora and Bo got back together, because they were in love behind Clint’s back.  So Matthew has had this allegiance to Clint.  It’s very interesting to see as he is learning about his Uncle, and where he comes down on the issue.

MICHAEL:

So this is another little red herring dangling out there for Bo and Nora fans.  How will Matthew play into this?  He saw Bo and Inez making out, which led him to believe they were truly sleeping together.  And he could tell Nora at any moment before Bo does!

HILLARY:

That is an interesting dynamic too, and Bo does not know that Matthew saw Bo and Inez together. Bo knows what he thinks he knows, and Nora knows nothing, and they are all living under the same roof!

MICHAEL:

How was it playing opposite John Wesley Shipp (Eddie)?

HILLARY:

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You know, we worked together on As the World Turns when I was Margo, and he was playing Doug Cummings.  It was so funny.  We ended up shooting out of order at One Life to Live because John got sick.  And all of the stuff he had with me in the motel room, we shot in one day, where he attempts to molest me, and has me in the closet, and all of that material.  It was his last day, too.  And, he was so out there and interesting.  He is the nicest and loveliest man in the whole world, and he is such a good actor.  He really was very thorough in his character development to the point where I am sure he was ready to shake this guy off… as that guy was pretty damn creepy.  At one point, he turned around to Larry Carpenter, our director, and said, “I have loved this woman most of my life and you are making her hate me on my last day?” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

When you were Margo to his Doug Cummings on ATWT, he turned out to be a nut job then, too!

HILLARY:

Well, we did not know that.  He was acting then with now film star, Julianne Moore (Ex-Frannie/Sabrina ATWT). Then in that storyline, Doug became a whacko, and being the cop that Margo was, I had to go get him, and things did not end up well for him.  I think his character got murdered, too!  He is so much fun, because back then he had that beautiful little boy face.  Now he has aged into this really interesting character with those fabulous features and that prizefighter nose.  It truly is just fabulous.  The whole experience with him at OLTL was great because he committed to it.  He made the character and he filled every inch of that, and it made it easy to work with him, because he was who he was.  There was only one way to react to him!

MICHAEL:

How is working with Jessica Leccia (Inez) as your pseudo-nemesis?

HILLARY:

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I adore her.  We have a good time and we both are on Venice. And even though I don’t get to work with her there, I was excited when she came on to One Life to Live, to get to work with her.  Jessica is a very subtle actress. Our scenes together have been different dynamics then let’s say my scenes with Lindsay.  It’s such a completely different thing because Inez is truly a victim, not like Lindsay, who just played victim.  It’s been fun.

MICHAEL:

Is that what prompted Nora’s psyche regarding Inez, a flashback to times with Lindsay?  She was already feeling the vibe that Inez was on to her man before anything happened.  Is Nora just a very jealous person?

HILLARY:

I don’t think she was jealous as much….well…. I think because of Nora’s past experiences with Georgie and Lindsay, the history is there.  But with Georgie especially, you learn from your history, so that the same mistakes don’t happen again.  I think there was just something about Inez.  I also remember Nora had people in her ear all the time saying “Oh, my God. They are getting very close. Oh, my God, I would not leave her alone with him.”  And then all the time Inez is bringing Bo cookies, and always running to him. You know, I am talking my real life now. I love my husband to death, I really do.  I have seen women try to throw themselves at him and he does not get it.  I think married men don’t get it. They think, “She’s so nice.”  You have to go up and say to him, “Honey, you’re not seeing it,” and my husband will go, “Well, what do you want me to do?”  And I go, “Just be aware so you don’t get caught in a situation where something can be misconstrued by her.”  And then you go to the girl, (which I would never have done), but Nora did, and go, “He is this way to everybody.  Don’t read anything special into his reaction.”  And I think Nora thought that was going to be the end of it, and then Clint started in, and then it was her saying to herself, “I knew it!”  So I am trying to say to Inez, “Stay away from my husband,” and to Bo, “Don’t let her in the door so often.” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Robert S. Woods (Bo) is one of the finest and most understated actors in the soap game.  How has it been working with him again after all the years being apart on the show?

HILLARY:

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It hasn’t changed.  Here is the thing: chemistry is trust and respect.  And, we both respect each other’s talents, and we both trust where the other one is going to take us.  So that high-wire act where you trust that the other person is there to catch you, it is still there.  I think the more we work together again it becomes very solid, because remember, we did not work with each other for ten years. And, I don’t know why it took them so long to put us back together again, but both of us are thrilled that we are.  It’s easy… it was like putting on your favorite pair of flannel pajamas and going, “Ah”.  By the time our characters got together, we realized that they were in love with each other, and a lot of it was we had to listen to each other and act off of that.  Also, the scenes were written well. Bob and I were lucky, and it was really easy.  We had forgotten how easy it is supposed to be.

MICHAEL:

So as we head into New Years Eve in Llanview, do you think there is hope for Bo and Nora?  Can they figure out that they have been duped?

HILLARY:

I think there is hope. You are going to see what works between Bo and Nora in the process, and see them overcome and work together.  I think this is the beauty of the story, and that is, when the forces go against them and everything seems like it’s falling apart, their trust and their love and respect will not let it go, and they fight for each other.

MICHAEL:

If you could take the writing reigns for the day, what would be your New Year’s wish for Nora in 2011?

HILLARY:

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I want her to go back to being a defense attorney.  I think it’s a lot more fun.  I like the legalese and all of that, but being a prosecutor is very cut and dry.  I like being able to have to think fast on your feet, and when you are a prosecutor you don’t.  Everything is mapped out and you have to follow the course.  So, I don’t think it’s as good a fit for me as a defense attorney.

MICHAEL:

Well, here is what I would like to see…I would like to see Tea defend Nora for the murder of Eddie Ford!

HILLARY:

There is an interesting thought.  I like that.  Put it out there to our head writer, Ron Carlivati!  That is a good one.

MICHAEL:

What do you think were the Best Nora Moments of 2010?

HILLARY:

I think the kidnapping and the turn of events with Eddie Ford and Rex coming to find her. The wedding of Bo and Nora was fun. That was high comedy and I enjoyed that from the standpoint that I got to do my comedy.  And then for drama, I really liked being able to play the subtlety of what happened in the motel room with Eddie.

MICHAEL:

You know I am very pro-doggie.  So tell us what is happening with your Willee-Coppee Fund that you created to assist pet owners to help man’s best friend with medical costs when they become ill?  What do you want to tell the fans that you need help with?

HILLARY:

Courtesy/WCFund

Here is the thing: we have raised over $20,000 since last fall.  We are very happy about it since it is not a tax-deductible charity; it’s just a discretionary fund that my friend Lindsay Harrison and I started.  From that $20,000 we are now low again, because we have been helping out so many animals, a lot of strays and rescues that people have adopted that have been brought in. We have had to bring the dogs back from death’s door.  We have been doing all of that and it’s really wonderful because we have saved the lives of animals that otherwise would have died, or were going to be put down, because their owners could not afford the medical treatment.  My goal in 2011, and I am putting it out there for any fan that has a law degree or knows how to do this.  We are looking for someone who will help us do all the paperwork in California to help us turn this into a non-taxable charity.  But it costs so much money to do so that we would rather put that money into the fund. Other than that, I want to thank everyone for their contributions.  It’s been wonderful.  It’s changed owner lives and dog’s lives, and brought us joy to help out.  So anything that anyone can contribute is wonderful. What we are looking for is to take the fund to that charitable level, where we can start getting donations and things.

MICHAEL:

So we need a Tea Delgado at The Willee-Coppee Fund!

HILLARY:

She is a defense attorney, and you know I should be giving Bob Krimmer (Ex-Rev. Andrew Carpenter, OLTL) a call, because he is a lawyer in California and he sets up grants and all of that!

MICHAEL:

Venice is about to come to a close with its final two webisodes of season two!  It’s been great to watch what is happening to Guya.  How was your time with Venice this time around?  And especially, working with Shawn Christian as Guya’s boy toy, Brandon?

HILLARY:

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It is a joy to stretch a different muscle because Guya is very different than Nora.  I love the experience of Venice. It’s a very close-knit group, and it was a lot of hard work in a very short amount of time. We all bonded very quickly and deeply, and if I could have brought Shawn Christian home with me, I would have (Laughs).  However, I don’t think my husband would have understood.  And I don’t think Bo would have understood either! (Laughs) Had I known that Shawn had been on One Life to Live at one point, I would have flown out to Hawaii myself!

MICHAEL:

You did not know that Shawn had been on OLTL as the original Ross Rayburn?

HILLARY:

He shot in Hawaii and I never met him.  So when Shawn said to me, “I was on your show for awhile. I played Ross.” I went, “Oh, my God!”

MICHAEL:

What did you think of Shawn?

HILLARY:

He is wonderful and adorable, and very easy on the eyes. I think when we first started working together he did not know what to do with me.  I think he was a little scared, because I was a lot more direct than he might have anticipated.  I look directly into people’s eyes.  So then I think he got used to me, and he said, “Wow, you are so there!” But I think I did scare him a little bit.

MICHAEL:

Guya is a psychic.  Did you get all of her metaphysical terminology?

HILLARY:

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She is a spiritual guider.  I understand most of what she is saying and whatever is on the page, I just say it.  That it the beauty of being an actor.

MICHAEL:

In closing, what would you like to say to the fans of OLTL as we close out 2010?

HILLARY:

I would like to say to the fans thank you so much for watching us on One Life to Live. We work really really hard to give you the best that we can, and with these economic times that are tough, we all have had to be tightening our belts.  But, we are here putting it out there, and we hope you are enjoying it, and hang with us.  I think that we are learning that love triumphs all, and that you can have all the craziness of the world, but as long as you got love, you are good.  I think they are bringing more love and relationships into OLTL, and that sort of offsets this dark stuff that we were going through.  The show has a nice balance now.

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GREAT INTERVIEW …I LOVE HBS…AND I HOPE THAT OLTL WILL KEEP THE BALANCE AND LET THE VET BE ON MORE……

love nora on oltl and love bo and nora bo and nora endgame

LOVE the interview. Hillary is such a doll. I love both Nora & Guya/Jane. Very different, but Hillary knocks it out of the park everytime.

Thanks, Michael!

Yay Hillary–We Love You Madly! 🙂

This story with Clint buying off Eddie so Eddie can kidnap Nora, was so evil and more so because Eddie was a menacing character, done extremely well by John. He was really scary! I love Nora and Bo together so I hope that they will find their way back to one another. I’m kinda hoping that Inez killed Eddie, and that her conscience will get the better of her and maybe she will be the one to expose Clint. Or maybe Matthew will figure it out. It’s a genuine mystery at this point, but in truth, it’s quite a stretch to make Clint so vindictive. Jerry verDorn is outstanding! Looking forward to the next episodes. Happy you did this interview with Hillary, Michael.

Great interview Michael. Thanks for doing it. Hillary has been my fav actress for many years and I always enjoy hearing what she has to say. She’s very interesting and really thinks about the question. But you asked great questions!

The character of Clint Buchanan has NEVER been written, portrayed, or represented as evil. He had little use or concern for the Buchanan family ties, or legacy, or whatever. He had an unknown son, Cord, whom he immediately embraced. Now suddenly, due to a drastic rewrite, characters are CONSTANTLY talking about how Clint has ALWAYS been the one to preserve the “family” at all costs. The REAL Clint would NEVER deny Rex as his own flesh and blood. Between the Eli’s and the Eddie’s, OLTL has enough middle-aged male psychopaths running amok without changing Clint from a hero to a scumbag. Ron Carlivati usually honours show history, but he is making a dreadful mistake here with this character assassination of Clint. It is disturbing and disgusting, NOT entertaining.

love and Bo and Nora together

Days Of Our Lives

Matthew Ashford and Melissa Reeves Talk Return to DAYS for Doug’s Funeral, Susan Seaforth Hayes, and Their Enduring Friendship

Last week, Days of our Lives celebrated the taping of their 15,000th episode which is tentatively scheduled to air on December 3rd. The story will feature emotional and heart-tugging scenes of Doug Williams funeral and honor his portrayer, the beloved Bill Hayes, who passed away on January 12th at the age of 98.

While the actors, producers, and crew took a lunch time break to pose for some pictures and speak with the press, they knew they would have to get back to taping the funeral, which was going to make it a tough day, but also cathartic for all who loved Bill Hayes.

Several returns have thus far been announced including; Melissa Reeves reprising her signature role of Jennifer Horton (a part she first played in 1985), and Matthew Ashford as Jack Deveraux. Reeves had last appeared on the show back in 2021, and she was replaced by Emmy-winner Cady McClain in her absence when Jennifer was in storylines. In real-life, Melissa had moved full-time to Tennessee along with her husband, Scott Reeves (ex-DAYS, GH, Y&R). Now, and as previously reported, Reeves will first appear back on DAYS for the Thanksgiving episodes with the Hortons.

Photo: JPI

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Matt and Melissa during the 15,000th episode celebration to get their take on: being back for these special episodes, how it has been working with and watching Susan Seaforth Hayes portray Julie’s grief over losing Doug, and how they have supported each other through the years. Check out what they shared below.

Melissa, you are back on the set of Days of our Lives for this very emotional and special moment in the series history. How does it feel?

MELISSA: Oh, my goodness. I am honored. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but to be here for Bill. He was like my real-life dance partner. He taught me how to ballroom dance. And to be here for Susan, of course, who’s just been our sweet hero this whole week. We’re just following her lead. She’s just been this incredibly strong example for us in the midst of this trial and season of her life. She is like just lifting us all up with her. It’s been incredible.

I was at Bill Hayes memorial service which was truly incredible and I know at the time you were in Tennessee. It was moving and celebratory of his life, all at the same time.

MELISSA: That’s all I have heard. I have to watch it on You Tube. They said it was just a real celebration of his life and I love that.

Photo: JPI

This must be difficult for Susan Seaforth Hayes depicting the death of Doug, when she is still grieving the loss of her beloved husband. (Susan pictured above with the returning Stephen Schnetzer who plays her on-screen brother, Steve Olson).

MELISSA: I’m sure Susan has those moments at home by herself, but she’s so good at being a leader and leading all of us. We’re following her, you know, and she’s like, “This is how I want to feel today.” And we’re just going along with her, you know? It’s so sweet.

Photo: JPI

How is it to see Matt Ashford again live and in-person?

MELISSA: You know, Matt and I can go years without talking, or seeing each other, and then the minute we see each other we’re chatting away.

MATT: Melissa was out on set doing a scene yesterday on the phone talking to a stage manager; as she was telling some really tough news on the phone. I’m like crying in the background, literally, I’m off-stage crying.

MELISSA: And then we get like back into normal life, and we’re like, okay, “What’s happening? What’s happening with this … or what’s happening with that?”

I had read, Melissa, that you were in touch with Matt about if there night be a possibility for you to reprise your role as Jennifer for these special episodes?

MELISSA: Yes. Well, Matt was like, “Hey! Would you want to come back? “And I was like, “Matt, you know, I would always come back. ”

MATT:  Every time I come here to Days of our Lives, they ask, “Where’s Missy? How’s Missy?” Everybody backstage says, “I miss her.” All of the crew is asking about her and saying, “It would be nice to see Missy. Nothing wrong with you Matt, but …”  They said, “Where is she?” I said, “She wants to come!”

Photo: JPI

There are some beautiful photos of Missy and Bill and Susan thorough the years that I found. It just reminded me of just the deep and entrenched history we all have had with the show, personally and professionally.

MATT: Missy is roughly the age where Francis Reid (ex-Alice Horton) was when she started the show, which is just crazy.

Photo: JPI

I’ve always said Missy was going to be the next generation Alice. Do you feel that Jennifer is the heir apparent matriarch of the Horton family?

MELISSA: Yes. I mean, this has been greatest blessing of my life, and that would be great. I told Ken Corday (executive producer, Days of our Lives) when I was 17 that this show would be my life. Ken always told me, “This is your home,” and I’ve always felt like that.

How have gotten through the scenes watching Susan Seaforth Hayes as Julie go through the loss of Doug?

MATT: Susan is bringing her best performance life for her and Bill. I mean, she’s a showbiz baby. She always has been one hundred percent, and she’s doing it for him, and this is who they’ve always been. So, you’re seeing this amazing performance colored by her life. She has her private life as Susan, but she has enough plugged into Julie that she’s done amazing work. The director, producers and writers are giving her room to live in these moments and it’s quite wonderful.

Photo: JPI

Have you already broken down in tears during the taping?

MELISSA: Yesterday, but today’s taping of the actual funeral I think they want us to try and be just more celebratory.

MATT: I mean, it is a beautiful long life for Bill Hayes and his character of Doug Williams, and so it will be about that. Then, you get a bunch of us together in the church pews, and there’s going to be hijinks.

MELISSA: We all have been through the waves of grief. You have that awful cry and then all of a sudden you feel okay.  There are those family situations we are portraying where you’re like, “What do we do? What do we do now? You know, no one knows what to do. But, it’s so sweet. I’m looking forward to seeing how the scenes all turn out.

So, are you glad that Matt and Melissa are back for the 15K episode and Doug’s funeral? From what we can tell, it’s going to be quite an emotional journey for Days of our Lives fans, and especially the performance of Susan Seaforth Hayes, 

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Days Of Our Lives

Ron Carlivati Talks on Decision to Make Days of our Lives 15000th Episode About Doug’s Funeral, and Previews Chances for WGA Award

This week, Days of our Lives celebrated the taping of their 15,000th episode. In of it itself, that is an incredible accomplishment for the long-running soap opera currently streaming on Peacock.

However, this on set gathering was a bit different. Though the show is celebrating their achievement, they are also in the middle of taping scenes surrounding the death and the funeral of Doug Williams, played by the late Bill Hayes, who passed away on January 12th of this year at the age of 98.

As previously revealed many longtime favorites are back to honor Bill and the character of Doug including: Gloria Loring (Liz), Melissa Reeves (Jennifer), Matthew Ashford (Jack), Maree Cheatham (Marie), Victoria Konefal (Ciara) and Stephen Schnetzer (Steve) to name but a few.

Photo: JPI

Michael Fairman TV was in attendance and spoke with Days of our Lives head writer, Ron Carlivati to gain some insight into how the 15,000 episode was crafted and the decision to honor the character of Doug Williams and Bill Hayes as its epicenter. In addition, Ron weighed-in on this Sunday’s April 14th WGA (Writers Guild of America) Awards, where he and his writing team are facing off with General Hospital for the daytime drama prize. Here’s what Ron shared below.

Was this your idea to make the 15,000th episode centered around Doug’s funeral and passing?

RON: It was. When you’re looking at it, and laying out the calendar for the whole year and you see 15,000 is coming up, we’re like, “What are we going to do?” And then, we got the news that Bill had passed away and something kind of clicked. I was like, “We should honor Doug on that show.” So then, we started to kind of build around that … when does he pass away? How does he pass away? Who could come back? You know, it’s a lot.  I’m very pleased with the returns that we got as there’s so much that you could do. We wanted everybody we could get. So, we put together a wish list and Janet Drucker (co-executive producer, Days of our Lives) made it happen.

Photo: JPI

You have Melissa Reeves back as Jennifer, when the role was last played by Cady McClain. What has it meant to have Missy back for these shows?

RON: It was so nice to see Missy Reeves. I think Cady has done such a good job, but on the 15,000th episode to see Missy as Jennifer, it’s a big deal. So having her was great, and overall, the milestone was a big undertaking, because you want to live up to it. You want the 15,000th episode to be good. Now, it has a lot of real emotion that you’re playing. because for the cast and the crew they’re honoring Bill Hayes just as much as we’re honoring Doug Williams.

Photo: JPI

Was it hard for you and the team to write this episode?

RON: Yes. I’ll tell you why it was hard to write.  When I wrote, for example, Asa’s (Phillip Carey) death on One Life to Live or Victor’s (John Aniston) on DAYS, Asa is a different type of character. Like, you could have characters going, “Oh! I’m glad he is dead.” You could have different points of view, but with Doug, you’re not having that. Every person loves this man. No one had a bad relationship with him. So, you’re challenge as a writer is how do you make it that not everybody’s saying the same thing and doing the same thing. And so, we tried to find ways to make the episode about all the familial relationships and yet, how do you make it about Doug and yet broaden the scope.

Photo: JPI

I had spoken to Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie), a week after Bill’s memorial, for an interview. She said that she felt very fortunate that you did include her on discussions of how you would tackle Doug’s passing. How did that conversation go?

RON: First, I attended Bill’s funeral, which was incredible. I said to so many people it was an emotional service, but it was hard to be sad at this. The guy had an incredible life and it was an incredible celebration. And so, you’re sitting there watching this knowing that you now have to write something similar. And how do you write something that lives up to what you just witnessed? I wanted to talk to Susan to get her thoughts about, you know, how much do you want this to be about keeping Bill separate from Doug. How comfortable are you sharing your grief. She was incredible to talk to. It was a great chat.

You’re in the middle of taping these major scenes for the 15,000 episode to air in December. How do you think it’s going? Have you seen any of the scenes?

RON:  I haven’t seeing anything. I mean, we were still making changes to the script up till this morning!

Photo: JPI

The Writers Guild Awards are this Sunday, April 14th and once again this year there are two daytime drama nominees, General Hospital and Days of our Lives. How are you feeling about your chances this year?

RON: It is often just GH and us in the category. I’ve won three years in a row, so I’m kind of feeling like it’s their turn.

Photo: JPI

What episodes did you submit for contention? If I recall, they had to do with Victor’s memorial.

RON: The episodes we submitted were centered around Victor’s funeral. I think one has story with Vivian (Louise Sorel). We had some fun stuff, we had some emotional stuff at Victor’s death, and I am pretty sure that our submission was three episodes right around that time.

Did you make the decision to go with those episodes because there was a mix of humor and drama?

RON: I like to have some humor, but it was also the funeral, then there’s Sarah (Linsey Godfrey) giving birth, and then Vivian’s crashing the reading of the will. So, we had a lot of fun and it’s hard sometimes to pick three that tell a story, as opposed to submitting for the Daytime Emmys, where the writing team only submits two shows. So, we shall see how it goes on Sunday.

Courtesy/Peacock

So, are you looking forward to the emotional 15,000th episode of Days of our Lives? Do you think DAYS will take home the WGA writing award for daytime dramas for the 4th year in a row? Comment below.

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Days Of Our Lives

(INTERVIEW) Eric Martsolf Previews DAYS Stars on ‘Weakest Link’, How He Fared in the Game, Plus Welcoming New Tate, Leo Howard

Tuesday night on NBC’s Weakest Link (9 p.m. ET/PT), the stars of Days our of Lives test their knowledge, and try to win big money for the charity of their choice on the newest season of the popular game show hosted by Jane Lynch. In case you miss it, you can also catch the episode on Wednesday streaming on Peacock.

The question on everyone’s mind is … who will be revealed as Salem’s weakest link? Who will be left standing at the end of the game? DAYS favorites: Eric Martsolf (Brady) Brynn Dattilo (Lucas), Galen Gering (Rafe), Martha Madison (Belle), Victoria Konefal (ex-Ciara), Zach Tinker (Sonny), Tina Huang (Melinda) and Lindsay Arnold (ex-Allie) play while literally having the task of throwing their co-stars under the bus. The contestant who receives the highest number of votes leaves the game throughout, as Lynch declares their exit with the now iconic phrase, “You are the Weakest Link. Goodbye.” 

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Eric Martsolf, who daytime fans know is great as a host in his own right and oh-so-fun at playing any trivia game you throw at him. Martsolf gave us the inside scoop of what it was like to be on the set and backstage in a rather nerve-wracking environment, and trying to come off as smart while Jane Lynch roasts you at the same time!

Photo: NBC

In addition, Eric shared his thoughts on the new Tate, as Leo Howard takes over the role of his on-screen son from Jamie Martin Mann on the April 5th episode of Days of our Lives, plus working with Emily O’Brien as Theresa, and the loss of the legendary Bill Hayes. Check out what Eric had to say below.

Did you know about the game before? Had you watched the original version of the Weakest Link, or this latest incarnation?

ERIC: I was very, very familiar with the game because I found, as someone who enjoys hosting, that has to be one of the best hosting gigs out there because they just have extreme liberties in belittling the contestants, and it’s all done in jest of course, but it’s great. Jane Lynch is a master.

Did you get to meet Jane Lynch before she hit the stage for the taping?

ERIC: I don’t think any of us met her prior to being on the set. So, we’re standing there behind our podiums and these cyber lights just point all in one direction. At one point when we’re out there, it was kind of a hurry up and wait thing. We’re just like, “When is this going to start?” Then, here Jane comes and in all her glory in a beautiful navy-blue suit. She just prances onto stage and just glares over at us, and starts making fun of a silly soap opera actors like you wouldn’t believe. It was just great. I’ll let the public see what how she crucified us. But it was all done in fun.

Photo: NBC

Did she crucify you?

ERIC: I don’t think anybody got out unscathed to be honest with you.

For those that don’t know the game, you try to eliminate those that are the weakest in answering questions.

ERIC: Correct, and therein lies the problem. Historically, I think the Weakest Link is comprised of contestants that don’t really know each other, and in this case, you have not only coworkers, but almost family members because we all know each other very, very well. It’s a tight circle and even more so when you’re on the same show. So, we all went in into it pretty nervous because the premise of the game is to expose the inadequacy of people’s knowledge of general facts and information. So, essentially, you’re voting each other off because you don’t think they’re as smart as you are and that they’re the least smart in the group. So, I mean, that in itself is pretty, pretty tough to swallow. It was really hard, because you have to look at your friends in the eye and go, “yeah, I don’t think you’re going to get the next couple questions. You’re not the smartest, you’re not the crispiest chip in the bag. I’m going to let you go. ”

Did you feel bad about some of the eliminations?

ERIC: At one point, without giving away any spoilers, I voted off someone that without a doubt, has more smarts and education than I do. I just felt silly. But, you know, the way the game was going, I just felt it was the right. There is a bit of strategy involved. I’m worried about the airing of this particular episode because I did fumble some questions that people are going to turn their heads and go, “Really? You didn’t get that one?” It’s so much easier to answer these questions at home in your pajamas than it is, you know, looking at Jane Lynch in the eye with 6,000 lights at your face in front of cameras. Your brain tends to wander. So yes, we all had had some answers that we couldn’t believe we didn’t get at the time!

Photo: NBC

Did it get very competitive?

ERIC: There was little competition there. If I recall, it’s Galen and Bryan that went at it a little bit and had some laughs. But again, I can’t stress this enough, it was all done with fun. At the end of the day, every one of us wanted to win. I think the smartest person did actually come out victorious.

Now in the game, for those that have never seen it, you’re on your podium, and then Jane gives a question, right?

ERIC:  It’s a firing squad of questions. You only have a certain amount of time to answer. If you get the correct answer or the wrong answer, you immediately, go to the next contestant and you have a certain amount of time. And then, at the end of that line of questioning, everyone gets to vote as to who they believed was the biggest dummy in the group. (Laughs) Some questions are simple. You know, “What color is Santa Claus’ suit?” And then, the next question is “What is 648,000 times 14?” or what’s the population of some obscure country? So, that was the biggest challenge. Someone else might get, “What is the main ingredient of a banana split?” And my question could be like, “How much is 9,430 times x 59 million?” There’s an intimidation factor that Jane Lynch brings to it when she’s staring you down.

Photo: NBC

When the cast finished the entire game, what happened backstage?

ERIC:  The best part was there were these post interviews that the Weakest Link conducts where you have to go into a dark black room. I think my first question was, “How did you feel about that wrong answer?” They don’t let up. They just keep jabbing at you. “Did you feel ridiculous getting the wrong answer to that fourth-grade level question?” (Laughs) There was also a lot of trash talk with that happened after the show. It got so competitive. If I recall, we were all supposed to go out together and get a meal with everybody, and that never happened. They’re like, “I’m not eating lasagna with you right now. You just voted me off!” Now, even the first person that gets voted off, you’re going to be shocked, because I thought this person would probably win it. In the game, you want the best people to remain on the panel because that’s what drives up the money.

Photo: JPI

Later this week on DAYS, we will see the debut of your new on-screen son, Leo Howard, taking over from Jamie Martin Mann as Tate.

ERIC: How about that?  I just did a post on Instagram, because I saw that Jamie Martin Mann had liked and hearted a post about Leo Howard coming on the show. I just thought that was so classy of him. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, “This is the new guy. Embrace him. He’s good. I’ve met him. He is a good guy.” It’s about handing off the character baton sometimes, sort to speak. I was really proud of those guys. I reached out to Jamie. He just wants to go to college and be a student. I understand that. That’s important.

Photo: JPI

Is that challenging for you as an actor since you’ve built this relationship with the one guy as your son, and now you’ve got to pivot and create a different kind of energy with someone else taking on the part?

ERIC: Leo Howard has been in the industry for a while, with some very good credits to his name. He brings a certain charisma to this role that I think people are really going to love. And yes, he’s older, but he plays younger, and he has that ability and he’s pulling it off brilliantly. I can’t wait for people to see him, but of course I miss Jamie. Emily O’Brien (Theresa) and I really grew to love him very quickly because the storyline got so deep, so quickly, with the drug intervention and then him getting beat up in in prison. I mean, as a father, that’s the kind of stuff that you have nightmares about, you know, your kids being in pain.

Photo: JPI

I still love the fact that Emily O’Brien is still noticeably wearing a blonde wig as Theresa. What are your thoughts on how the transition has been for you, and for her pivoting to a completely different role?

ERIC: I hadn’t worked with Emily much before, because Gwen and Brady never really crossed paths. We all saw the transition that she had to make. When I became Brady, the character hadn’t been on the map for three years.  When she became Theresa, she walks out one gate and comes through the other as Theresa. We all had a good giggle about it. That’s hard to ask an audience to go,  OK, I’m Gwen, now I’m Theresa.” I was scrolling through X (formerly Twitter) and I saw a couple posts from fans that said how they were really weary, at first, about accepting Emily O’Brien as Theresa. But after today’s episode, they shared, “I’m loving her as Tate’s mom, and the chemistry she has with the family.” I texted Emily and I said, “I just want to let you know that you’re just bringing it home really brilliantly, and people are starting to come around.” I think they’ll do that with Leo Howard too.

Photo: JPI

What had it been like without the iconic Bill Hayes (Doug Williams) coming to work and being part of the Days of our Lives cast since his passing?

ERIC: You really do miss that presence in the hallways. He was a song and dance guy and I am a song and dance guy. as well. I kind of find myself the lone singer in the makeup room sometimes, but I could always count on Bill. He’d be humming some old tune from the sixties. I’d start humming along and he’d just kind of lean over and take a look at me, and give a little smile. Everyone else was probably irritated at us, but we just kept singing along. and it’s like 6:30 in the morning. I think Bill was a lot like the late John Aniston (ex-Victor), in the sense that I don’t really feel like he felt he was working. He was just always having fun right up until the end. That little number he did with his wife, Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie), and Dick Van Dyke (guest starring as Timothy Robicheaux), where he was singing along, he was just living it. It was so cute and so adorable to watch.

Photo: JPI

Your final tease for the Weakest Link tonight is, “Fans should watch because …”

ERIC: Fans should watch it because if they thought we were smart before, wait till they see the show.

You can check out the cold open for tonight’s Weakest Link “Days of our Lives special” below.

Now let us know, will you be watching Eric and his co-stars, past and present, attempting to showcase their knowledge on the ‘Weakest Link? Intrigued to see Leo Howard and Eric in scenes as new Tate and his father, Brady? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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