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The Jim Romanovich Interview- 37th Annual Daytime Emmys

Associated Television International’s, Jim Romanovich, President, Worldwide Media and Entertainment spoke to On-Air On-Soaps to bring us up to date on the just announced plans for the telecast of the presentation of the 37th Annual Daytime Emmys.  Soap fans were somewhat in a state of shock this past Friday, when it was revealed that CBS has agreed to air the broadcast this June, and so the Emmys are back on network television!  However, one major difference; the show won’t be emanating from Los Angeles or New York, but “Sin City”…Las Vegas.  Jim shares his thoughts, and gives us a peek at what went down behind-the-scenes with NATAS and CBS to give daytime fans another year to see their favorites honored and recognized.   He also responds to issues concerning last year’s creative decisions and inherent problems, and how it may or may not be different this year.


What can you speak to, as far as special presentations and honors for the televised broadcast?


I can’t give too many details, but one tribute we are planning is the Lifetime Achievement Award.  We did not choose the recipient, but NATAS did and that person has not been contacted yet.  If they agree, then they will be honored by it. I think a lot of people in the soaps would agree and will love it.


Why Vegas?


The Vegas idea has been going and has been a done deal since November, because of the success we had in last August’s Emmy presentation. And, it’s the 40th Anniversary of the Las Vegas Hilton.  It’s a big milestone for them.  I think Vegas and Daytime have a synergy about fashion, glitz and glamour, and all that.  We did not want to repeat what we did last year.  We thought we brought something back, and we are taking it to the next step.  CBS took a while and NATAS took a while for all this to become a reality.


What were the stumbling blocks that dragged out the confirmation of a televised broadcast?


The stumbling block with NATAS was the same thing it always has been, which is money, because their survival is always on ticket sales.  Did it make sense to do a TV show in Las Vegas?  Or, did it make sense just to have a dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, and keep their overhead low and get a bunch of people to come?  Our feeling is, and still is, that the Daytime Emmys deserve to be on television, and it’s important for NATAS’s survival be on TV.  It was a long process because you are dealing with board members, and trustees, and everything is by committee. 


Vegas seems a very odd choice.  Are you going to fly people there, when last year it was hard to get people to LA from the NY shows?


Well, first of all, there are less people in the soaps now in New York. (Laughs) Listen; if we were living in a perfect world, everything should be in New York, in my opinion.   LA was never supposed to be the soap town; it was always supposed to be New York.  What we are trying to do is rebuild it for what today’s realities are, and that is the daytime community is really more west coast based now.


Was it somehow a cost effective move, deciding to mount the show in Vegas?


No, not really.  It can be more expensive.  Last year we wanted to make a point with the Orpheum.  We wanted to give it a sense of grandeur.  The location was not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.  Would we have rather been in the Kodak Theatre? Absolutely, but the Kodak was not available.  So what we tried to do is improvise it and make it a mini-Radio City Music Hall feel.  And because of that, we are now taking it to the next level of showmanship and entertainment.  The CBS deal would have never happened had it not been for Las Vegas.  It gave them another angle to promote. They wanted a real show, and they wanted something that they felt would boost the ratings.


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People were shocked that CBS was going to air the show when they canceled two of their soaps, As the World Turns and Guiding Light within the last year and a half.  What would you say to those that are feeling that CBS is sending out a mixed message to the soap fans?


CBS is a business.  They are not emotionally involved in anything, and that includes Let’s Make A Deal, or if 20,000 Pyramid or Password comes back.  What they are looking at is money. They want to be in the business of making good shows and making money.  Unfortunately, As the World Turns – as great as the strides have been the last year – they had been declining for the past several years.  TeleNext tells me they would have loved to continue it.  I know CBS is not looking to get out of the soap business, and that is not their mantra.  They have two of the top rated soaps.  B&B is the number one show internationally, and Y&R is the number one daytime show, and does better ratings then many primetime dramas.  Daytime is very important to them, and everything that goes along with it.  They want to boost their morning show, and all of that. 


So what will be the theme of the show?


I can’t talk specifically because we don’t have any thing set in stone, but the feel is Vegas Salutes Daytime.  So, I know our hard-core Daytime Emmy viewers like award, award, award, and then credits.  I think that is why the ratings have been slipping because that had been the case.  We started to bring in some entertainment value last year and that pissed off some of the diehards, who would have rather have had another award category. But for the people watching in primetime that are flicking channels, they are going to stop and watch if there is some entertainment.  The Oscars, Grammys, and the Tonys do it.  I guarantee you, if we had not done the entertainment value like we did this last year; we were not going to be able to save the Daytime Emmys being televised.


What can you say to people who want to see their favorite soap stars glammed up and getting more time on primetime?  Last year you got pushback when viewers saw host Vanessa Williams and Gilles Marini in a dance number, instead.  Soap fans felt the show became more diluted then in the past.


That is valid because it’s very personal to them, and soaps second to sports, I think have the most vehement fans in the world.  I am the same way.  You have to look at it from a perspective that there are seven, soon to be six, soaps. And even so, 85% of the viewing time of the Daytime Emmys is about the soaps, even though there is only six hours of daytime television devoted to the genre.  We don’t spend that much time on children’s shows or half the amount of time on court shows, and there are a ton of those.  The soaps are really the reason the Emmys exist, but we have to acknowledge the other types of shows.  I look at this as a celebration of daytime in which everyone is represented, but because ATI is involved, and me personally, we are going to make sure that the soaps are very well represented.


Good to reiterate you are a champion and friend to the soap genre.   Now, after last year’s broadcast and feedback, and memorable incidents that did not sit well with the viewing audience, what changes is ATI going to make?  Or, what have they learned from last year’s show?


One thing we are going to try to do is to get CBS to agree not to cut us off at ten o’ clock! (Laugh) This time we are on from 9pm-11pm, which I think will improve the amount of viewers, and this time we are on Sunday instead of Friday.  Remember, CBS scheduled this on Sunday, as opposed to Friday as it had been.  And, Friday is next to the graveyard on television because no one is home on Friday night.  Sunday night is a great night for award night.  We did the last show as if it was the last one, and we are doing this show as if it is the last one. I believe we now have the option for one more year because of this.  It all depends if we can improve upon what we did, and if there is enough support, and I look at the soap fans for this.  I read a lot of stuff they say.  Some I don’t agree with, and some I do.  There are others who write, “If Crystal Chappell doesn’t win they will never watch this show again.”  She is a wonderful actress, but you have that fan base. They will crucify you if their person doesn’t win…because sometimes fans think politics is a factor… and they say, it’s a joke, and the show’s a joke.  And it is like you said, Michael, why show Vanessa and Gilles dancing when you could show soap stars?  Our point of view is because of the entertainment we brought last time out, CBS agreed to do it.


But you are looking to tailor the show to the broadest primetime audience, correct?


I am a huge soap and daytime fan, but if you are running in primetime, you have to cater to a primetime audience.  That is just the way it is.  There was a time in the late 80’s and early 90’s, where the daytime audience was eclipsing the primetime audience, and when you had Liz Taylor on GH.  Back then daytime was the money mill.  It’s a shame it’s not anymore.


One of the things that was a big issue last year was viewers were hard pressed to find any on-air promos to properly promote tune-in.  Will there be more promos this time?


We were very upset about that last year, because we took a lot of care to bring this thing back, and the network treated it like we were lucky to be there… when in fact they were lucky to have us!  CBS said they would help us with on-air promos, and it’s in their best interest.


Will you be having a Daytime Gives Back segment like you did last year?


We do have a Daytime Gives Back again this year.  And this time it’s Americans Feeding America for a change.  We are going to do a food drop in South Central L.A.  We are putting another contingent together where we are going to be giving back to soldier’s families, and these are soldiers that are just back from Afghanistan and Iraq.  They come back and they find their homes and life is different.  It’s a frightening and sad thing that these men and women come back and have all these debts.  I think it’s a positive message for daytime to be involved in.


So, is there a game plan in place to move forward with a tribute, in some fashion, to As the World Turns? Previously, you had stated that it didn’t look like that was a reality, but instead you were thinking the show would do a tribute to All My Children celebrating their 40th anniversary?  Where does this all stand?


I don’t have a game plan yet, because we are waiting on those who make those decisions to tell us.  I met with TeleNext in Cannes.  I said, “We are planning to do the Daytime Emmys on June 27th, and I wanted to talk about getting the ATWT cast there so the possibility of a tribute can be done.”  And they said, “It’s a bad week.  We are shooting our last episodes right around that time.  I don’t know if we can even make it.”  So, we are trying to figure out what to do there.


Why not have one star, Julianne Moore, come out and just introduce a clip package befitting the show?


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I mentioned Julianne Moore to the Academy and CBS.  I would love her to do this.  We are going to do everything we can to do something for As the World Turns.  I think there may be an acknowledgment with All My Children for their 40th anniversary, but I think the most important thing with AMC is to document their move west, which was the most important thing that happened to them, and what it meant, but that may be part of something else.  All of these things are on the plate.  I did not think there would be an ATWT tribute for these reasons: One, the cost value of getting everybody out there.  Two, P&G, TeleNext and NATAS wanting it to happen… and three, CBS wanting it to happen.


If CBS is involved and P&G is packing up boxes and closing shop in Oakdale, why can’t CBS supply ATWT clips to your Emmy production team?


I do not think it was a clip issue.  You saw the interview with the P&G guy who said, “We are out of the soap business,” and that does not bode well for helping with the Daytime Emmys.  I think people that watch the Emmys are soap people.  I know that.  I am pushing for things involving the soaps really hard.


Is there going to be a Pre-Show this year?


CBS is not going to do a Pre-Show.  I have talked to a variety of cable networks – and no, not SOAPnet they are just not interested.  I am talking to the E’s and TV Guide Network’s, and telling them we are going to have a red carpet and in Las Vegas. I know the ET’s and Access Hollywood’s will be there, but we will not do gavel to gavel coverage like last year. We produced that third hour last year because we wanted to expand our show.  CBS is not going to do that.  They are not going to use a red carpet meet and greet when they can run Undercover Boss. Actually, I would rather have them run Undercover Boss because I want that lead in.  (Laughs)


What about host candidates?



There have been some bantered around.  However, I do think that the person chosen will have a “Vanessa Williams” quality… meaning they have to have an appeal and be an entertainer. 


Final question that many fans want to know:  Does NATAS dictate the awards that are presented, or do you, as the production entity, have a say in what makes it to air and what categories get cut?


ATI does not decide. The two entities that decide what categories absolutely have to be on the air, are NATAS and the broadcaster.  Then we plot the show around that.  I don’t feel for a moment that it won’t be an entertaining show.  I think there will be moments of hilarity, song and dance, sadness and nostalgia.   I think all of those things will be there. We do this with the sense that if this is the last one, lets go out with something memorable… and if it’s not the last, then we gave them a great show.

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I think it was very unfair for Mr. Romanovich to single out the fan base of one specific actress as an example, as I’m sure many fan bases are passionate about who they support. I’m also certain the letters and/or responses he receives from Ms. Chappell’s fans are nothing new to him or the industry. Therefore, in my opinion, If Crystal Chappell wins the Emmy for Best Leading Actress in a Daytime drama, which I believe her work from 2009 reflects she so rightfully deserves. There will always be a question behind it and that is very unfair. I’m very disappointed in Mr. Romanovich’s comments and feel they were unnecessary and unprofessional.

I am confused. I have always thought of Jim and the Emmy’s to be professional. I am quite disturbed at the comment about Crystal Chappell. If fans have written those comments then, that is unfortunate, but does not take away from this awesome actress and her talent. I find it hard to believe that NO other actress has had fans write in about being upset regarding their favorites not winning. I mean in the 19 years it took Susan Lucci to take home the Emmy, there were no distraught fans Jim? Why single out one particular actress?

So, should we watch this year or has Jim decided that Crystal should not win because she has passionate fans that are invested in this story line and still distraught over losing the Guiding Light period.

Could this be why the Emmy’s are having a hard time with ratings and finding a network to host the show? Just saying,……Lets infuriate and insult fan bases and then expect them to support the show. With problems with the ratings last year, maybe you should be thankful for Chappell’s passionate fans, after all, they are still watching.

You certainly are confused because you didn’t read what the man had said. He was obviously citing an example of how some fans will not support The Daytime Emmys if they feel their favorite star was snubbed. Last year, Ms. Chappell was constantly in the news as being snubbed for her excellent work in GL for the 2009 Emmys so his comment was relating to that. You criticize a person who has done everything he can to save your shows? He also offered to to fund a new GL. Anybody else coming to the rescue? You should be ashamed.

Ashamed…. for speaking my mind and adding my opinion…sorry for you , but NO….For anyone that tried to save GL, we are all appreciative. It is my understanding that the funding of a new GL was an overseas venture that would have had a completely new cast, so that option would not have helped this cast have jobs. This year, we are loosing ASWT. I would be as upset if any other actress fan base was apparently called out. I am sure they deal with numerous fan bases that are upset. My ONLY problem was calling out one actress as it is her fault that she has fans that at times may go a little far. I am sure they all do. I have watched and supported CBS Soaps for more than 30 years and have never threatened not to support baed on one of my favorites winning.

So, ashamed for having and speaking my opinion…again … NO….
Last time I checked, this was still a democracy….

Thank-You Michael…. I know you to be a supporter of Crystal. I am very glad to know your perspective on those comments. I do watch and support Crystal, but I also watch and support all of the CBS Soaps and now DOOL and have done so for more than 30 years. I was just a little surprised to hear one actress fan base called out for what appeared to be derragatory by threatening not to watch if their actress doesn’t win. I in no way support that behavior. I appreciate your fairness and supporting all of them equally.

I love that Jim has worked so hard to get the show on the air, that said I don’t think its fair to have a daytime emmy show and cater to primetime viewers look I wouldnt of minded Vanessa Williams dancing if it had been with Cameron Matheson (yikes I dislike Ryan) since he’s a daytime star and the primetime audience knows him from Dancing with the Stars. I also don’t like how he called out Crystals fans but I don’t think he has any say in who wins. I know that the emmy’s wont be perfect, nor were last years I just wish that they wouldnt cater so much to the non viewers but ehhh what do I know.

Here’s a link to suggestions from goldderby members on how to improve the awards show.

Entertain me!!!

Sorry I don’t agree with the bulk of the suggestions on goldderby. I watch one soap opera. I am not going to waste my time watching a show that simply hands out odd looking statues to a bunch of people I don’t know. Showing me an endless array of clips of tortured characters that I am unfamiliar with will make me scramble for the remote.

I think Jim and the NATAS are on the right track. The show is in June, just like my kids’ end of year awards ceremonies. By the time the Emmy’s roll around I will have already sat through several hours where the crowd politely claps as someone I don’t know walks across the stage, smiles and shakes the hand of someone in a nice outfit. With technology being an important buzzword in schools we even get montages. I have no desire to sit through another award ceremony just to see if a handful of my soap favorites thank their spouses and the writers.

If Jim and CBS want me to tune into the Emmys they are going to have to entertain me. There is a lot of talent in daytime, that is what I want to see! Bring on Las Vegas!

Nowhere does he say that Crystal Chappell doesnt deserve to win or to be nominated, nor does he bash her acting skills. IMO it was just an example. I will never not watch an Awards show just because one actor or actress isn’t nominated. Thats ridiculous.

I’m looking forward to the Emmy’s!!!!!!!!!! So excited! <3 u jim

There indeed should be a Tribute to As The World Turns. They have kept me watching for 54 years. I have always considered them Daytime best and always will.

No one does it better then As The World Turns. I will keep fighting for the show until the very end. I am praying they get a new home.

I don’t understand why NBC doesn’t pick up ATWT. They are down to DOOL and I think they could use a little more daytime soap drama in their lineup. I don’t watch ATWT, but I am a fan of daytime television, so I hate to see yet another show yanked off of television. There used to be a time when there were like 13 soap operas on TV, now we will be down to 6. Someone needs to step in and save our soaps.

Please do not cancell DOOL..Love that soap…for many years. What would they replace it with??…Another infomercial or talk show UGH!!! At least we are not getting reruns and how wouldl I know all the new products!!!!!! I wouldn’t be watching daytime TV anymore..because no soaps..Get with it sponsers!!!!!!!

The advent of cable should be the tool to save AS The World…………….but it won’t because it has too many judge shows…………two of the could easily go…….and in its place AS The World……….but we’re dealing with actors and the salaries of actors……….reality television will never let go of these lucurative time slots and place a group of talented actors……..and a script…………..maybe their last hope is to ask Oprah to sell/but it for her network………………….

I would like to know why there are no tickets available to the public who will happen to be in Vegas at that time and would love to see their favorite stars, and not in the sweltering 120 degree heat of the the red carpet event.


Days Of Our Lives

Stephen Schnetzer Talks On His Return to Days of our Lives and Working with Susan Seaforth Hayes In Emotional Episodes

Who says you can’t go home again? In the case of Another World favorite, Stephen Schnetzer (ex-Cass Winthrop), he has proven that it is true, and you can go back to your soap roots and where it all started for you.

Last week on April 11th, Schnetzer, along with several other key returns were on set at Days of our Lives taping all-new episodes of the Peacock streaming soap opera, centering on the funeral of Doug Williams (the late Bill Hayes), and as part of the iconic soap opera’s 15,000th episode.

Stephen is reprising his first daytime role as Steve Olson, the brother of Julie Williams (Susan Seaforth Hayes). The last time Schnetzer appeared on a DAYS set was during his one and only run on the show from 1978 to 1980. Clearly, viewers will be in for some very emotional scenes when Steve returns to Salem to be there for his sister, Julie in her time of need. In real-life, Susan has been going through her own grief, having just lost Bill back on January 12th at the age of 98.

Photo: NBC

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Stephen during the 15K episode celebration ceremony, and during a break from taping the gut-wrenching funeral scenes, to get his thoughts on being part of these highly-anticipated moments that will air later this year in December. Here’s what he shared with us below.

What has this been like for you to work with Susan Seaforth Hayes after all of these years?

STEPHEN: She’s a dream and she’s so bright. We ran lines yesterday and we ended up just visiting for about 45 minutes and just catching up and telling tales about each other’s career. She even dropped off the autobiography that she and Bill did. And being back here at DAYS, every time I turn a corner, there’s another familiar face. When I was on the show 40 more years ago, a bunch of the guys, played softball on a team together. This is really a trip down memory lane as I knew it would be.

Photo: JPI

Taping Doug’s funeral must be a hard day for Susan. Are you checking in with her to help hold her up through this?

STEPHEN: I am and I’m checking in with Amy Shaughnessy (Susan’s assistant), and she’s holding her up more than anybody. We’re there for each other.

There will obviously be some major hankie-inducing moments when Steve comes back to Salem to console his sister.

STEPHEN: Oh, wait till you see it in December. It’s going to be great.

Were you surprised you got this call to come back to the show decades later?

STEPHEN: It was out of the blue! I was completely surprised. They should have called me decades ago! That’s what surprised me. When Another World went down, I thought I’d land somewhere else and it never happened. That was more of a surprise.

Photo: JPI

Cass is such an identifiable character for you. As well, you and Linda Dano (ex-Felicia Gallant) are so synonymous together as best friends Cass and Felicia from Another World. When fans heard you were reprising your role as Steve Olson on DAYS, they are now hoping there will be more of you on the show to come.

STEPHEN: Steven Olson is a real “Cassian “character. I cut my teeth on Steve Olson and that’s how Cass was introduced. He was kind of a roguish charmer. And then when the character stuck for Another World, they rehabilitated me, and turned me into one of the shows heroes. And that’s what would’ve happened if I stayed as Steve Olson probably. So, Steve is the ‘pre-Cass’, Cass.

Photo: JPI

As the story goes, you originally decided to leave Days of our Lives?

STEPHEN: I was never on contract. I was doing a day and a half a week and I got a Broadway play directed by Franco Zeffirelli starring Joan Plowright and Frank Finlay. I was able to it as I didn’t have to break a contract or anything. I cut loose and went back to New York for that.

How well did you get to know Bill Hayes during your first time around on DAYS?

STEPHEN: My first episode was with Bill and Susan, as her long lost brother coming into Salem. They were so good to me. They were so kind. I had been doing eight years of classical repertory theater, never been in front of a camera. I tell everybody, it took me longer than any other actor I’ve ever seen to get comfortable in front of a camera. And they were very supportive at that time in my career. Coming back to honor Bill now in 2024, and to be see Susan, I am just so happy to be here.

Looking forward to seeing the scenes between Stephen and Susan Seaforth Hayes come December and Doug’s funeral and surrounding episodes? Do you hope that DAYS might bring the character of Steve Olson back for a longer stay? Comment below.

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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.


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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