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The Michael Park Interview – As The World Turns

Photo Credit: JPI Studios
Michael-Park-200x300

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

On As the World Turns, it’s finally “Michael’s Turn”. After languishing on the back burner for quite some time, actor Michael Park has gotten the story of his soap opera lifetime. Michael’s endearing and sturdy portrayal of everyman Jack Snyder has made him one of daytime’s most treasured performers. CBS and ATWT heavily promoted and revealed that Brad Snyder (played by Austin Peck) would be killed off, and with that huge payoffs and stories would explode. And they did, and it did not disappoint critics or viewers. If anyone had caught each episode of ATWT since Jack accidentally shot and killed his brother, you have witnessed must see daytime television. But to On-Air On-Soaps, the standout is Park’s heartbreaking star turn as a man racked with guilt for shooting his brother and how it literally spins his whole life out of control.

Now with the shows Never Surrender Tour in full force, which features Jack hitting the road after the tragic event and ATWT visiting cities around the US in a huge promotional boost for the soap, viewers are getting the chance to see a cast of characters that have been off the canvas for quite some time. But of all the returns, the most highly anticipated was that of Carly, played by the returning Maura West. And that means that Carly and Jack, long-time star-crossed lovers, may yet get another chance at love, or will they?

In this On-Air On-Soaps interview Park talks openly about his new storyline, the exit of Austin Peck, ATWT’s cancellation rumors, and re-teaming with Daytime Emmy winner, West.

MICHAEL:

Since the episode where Jack accidentally shot and killed his brother Brad, As the World Turns fans have been watching you give the performance of your career!

MICHAEL PARK:

Let me start this off by saying the performances across the board have been outstanding. Terri Colombino (Katie), and Austin Peck (Brad)…I mean, I don’t think Austin has done better. He has hit every mark perfectly, and I love this ghost story. I think it’s really something else because I think he and Trent Dawson (Henry) work really well off each other. The writing has been spot on and I think Chris Goutman (exec prod ATWT) has come up with a perfect story arc. It is a perfect storm of good soap opera, period.

MICHAEL:

What went through your mind when you found out the show was planning on killing off Brad, and thus Austin would then be leaving the show, which would then propel Jack into major story?

Brad dies.MICHAEL PARK:

I immediately said, “Please tell Austin it was not anything that I wanted. Tell him it was not my fault.” There has been all this hoopla on how the two of us did not get along. I think it was more hype than anything else. Regardless, he has been doing phenomenal work and I was proud of it. I am happy for the show, and the bottom line is people are talking about As the World Turns and that is what we needed, and at that point we did not even have Maura West (Carly) back yet. What a great set-up for her return to the show.

MICHAEL:

Jack’s journey: from the scenes when Brad died and he felt so guilty, to dealing with his family; Janet and Liberty and his son, Parker, of what he had done were such gut-wrenching moments. Were they tough for you to play?

MICHAEL PARK:

You know it’s crazy, I was thinking of that myself. I have an older brother… and keep in mind on ATWT Brad is younger than Jack. But I do have a brother in real life, and I am thinking while Austin is laying there, “If that was my brother…” and the feeling comes up and the subject matter is heavy, and this also meant… Austin is leaving. I drew from a lot of things. I had a sibling that past away. Did I draw from that? Yeah. And looking at Teri crying that alone will get you, and Terri was beside herself and it was just phenomenal.

MICHAEL:

What can you tell us about the reports that Austin was indeed, “fired”?

MICHAEL PARK:

Look, he did not get fired. We needed to facilitate Brad going away to facilitate story and unfortunately he was collateral damage. What a firestorm it started because the fans got very upset. But the story that happened because of that was so gorgeous, and so many people benefited from it. Most of all, I believe the fans did. And it’s not over yet, because the Christmas Eve show will knock your socks off! The Christmas Eve show is one of our most beautiful shows of the year, I think.

MICHAEL

Will we need hankies?

Michael and JanetMICHAEL PARK:

You might keep em’ nearby, for sure.

MICHAEL:

Jack is the everyman that we can all relate to, which is why he is so beloved. Question: Do you want me to pick out your Emmy reels for you now?

MICHAEL PARK:

Stop it! Don’t talk like that!

MICHAEL:

Your scenes with Mick Hazen as your son Parker, and Julie Pinson as Janet, were also poignant during Jack’s torment. How is working with Mick and Julie?

MICHAEL PARK:

Working with Mick is so easy. He is so present with me and we have a wonderful relationship outside the studio. We are very close and Julie Pinson is a pro.

MICHAEL:

You want to know what drove me up a wall? Janet harping to Jack, that he had two beers and had been drinking the night he shot Brad. She wouldn’t stop bringing it up!

ColumbinoMICHAEL PARK:

Look, Julie made it work and again it’s for more collateral damage. She had to do that in order to facilitate Jack feeling so rocked with guilt that he takes off, because no one is forgiving him. Katie is really the only one forgiving him. Katie! She has been giving Jack the gift of forgiveness, and she should be coming down on him the hardest. Jack living in the same house as Liberty, Brad’s daughter, and the fact she hates the sight of Jack at that moment, he just has to get out of there and is overwrought with guilt.

MICHAEL:

How was it going town-to-town on the Never Surrender Tour of Jack’s journey?

MICHAEL PARK:

Bringing the show to the fans was another one of Chris Goutman’s ideas. You know, it was busy! It was a lot of work! I visited those cities a few times in a couple months… first doing publicity there and then coming back to shoot the scenes. It was very taxing on the home life and Maura just had her fifth child in real life, and she is going everywhere with me. I believe out of it came wonderful story, if you put aside Carly teleporting to cities from Oakdale! (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

Jack visited with Mike, played by our favorite Mike, Mark Collier.

CollierMICHAEL PARK:

That was really special. For a couple years there ATWT was writing in characters and recasting them and rewriting the history along with those new characters. For example, with bringing Brad back, you had to rewrite the history of Jack and his mom and dad, too. Austin worked out that his Brad was this off the wall kooky guy. When they brought Mike on he was very serious, and keep in mind the relationship between Jack and Mike, Carly slept with Mike! So there was a lot of history set aside in order to tell story and it was great to see Mark Collier’s Mike. No slight to Jon Prescott. Now Peter Parros (Ben), the man is beautiful number one. He is rock flipping solid! I don’t know how old he is, and I don’t want to know. (Laughs) He is just a masterpiece, and seeing Lesli Kay (Molly) again, well she is another masterpiece, and to top it off, Paul Leyden (Simon) is back.

MICHAEL:

Now in the story, Jack wants Simon to come back to Oakdale. Why?

MICHAEL PARK:

Simon was involved in an art theft and Jack shows up and says, “You are needed by Katie. Now I don’t know why she loved you, but she did love you and now she is in trouble and you need to help her.” Jack has this stuck in his craw that he has to mend this broken heart of Katie. That is why he goes to see Mike, but Mike has a new wife and baby, so Mike steers him towards Simon. Jack is vehemently opposed to being in Simon’s orbit because of the history between Simon and Carly. As reluctant as he is, it may be the only other person that could help Katie and that is why he tracks down Simon. He can’t finish the job though, and thank God. Lo and behold, Carly shows up to help him out, because Carly knows Simon better than anyone (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

Now coming up next week, things get really upsetting around Thanksgiving for Jack.

Simon Jack and CarlyMICHAEL PARK:

Simon is a master of disappearing and that is pretty much what he does. Jack takes it really hard and thinks it’s his last shot at finding Katie any kind of happiness. So he goes on bender a little bit. He hits the bottle.

MICHAEL:

With a recovering alcoholic Carly nearby? What?

MICHAEL PARK:

And it’s really ‘lousey’, too, to get drunk in front of Carly who just got out of rehab. That’s basically what happens. The tease is Janet finally decides to go looking for Jack. There is a moment when Carly may be tempted to drink. There is a moment when Carly and Jack could end up hitting the sheets, and Jack does not remember what happens, and in that same moment Janet shows up.

MICHAEL:

The “super couple”, if you will, of ATWT as anyone knows is Carly and Jack. Why do you think it has clicked for you and Maura and for the fans?

Carly and JackMICHAEL PARK:

You say we are a “super couple”, but we have not been together for years now. No slight to Julie, no slight to Annie Parisse (Ex-Julia Lindsay), no slight to Sarah Brown (Ex- Julia Larrabee)….I have been blessed to work with all of these wonderful actresses and I don’t know why, I really don’t. Jack met Carly in late 1997 and we have garnered these wonderful crazy and fanatical fans, and they kept us going, really. Without a fan base, you don’t have a “super couple”, and it’s magic for me to work with her. We know each other so well and we pick each other up, and it’s been a great working relationship for over a decade.

MICHAEL:

When the two of you see the scripts where it feels like the same ol’ same ol’ of Jack and Carly splitting up and then getting back together again, does it feel like as actors, “Oh God, here we are again… been there, done that?”

MICHAEL PARK:

Isn’t that always the case, you recycle story. This reunion, if there is one, may be more of the same, but I hope it isn’t. There is a lot to overcome. Jack has to remain non-judgmental and has got to change, and he has not the right to judge anyone, says he. He has no right to judge a soul. He has taken a life!

Jack Shoots BradMICHAEL:

Do you think Jack will ever come to terms with what he has done?

MICHAEL PARK:

It’s a question of Jack forgiving himself, it really is. I don’t think it ever will be the same with Jack and Liberty again, and with his actions of what he did to Janet. I think there were some bridges burned between the two of them that I don’t think will ever be mended either. Because of who he is, and Janet being the good catholic girl she is…they try to stick together, and a lot not only happens on the road, but a lot happens back on the home front, too. So she is no angel in all of this.

MICHAEL:

Maura West’s Emmy reel last year, not only featured an outstanding performance by her but by you as well. In those episodes, Carly was trying to lure Jack back into her life and into her bed.

MICHAEL PARK:

In the past four or five years, I have submitted the same four or five reels as Maura. (Laughs).

MICHAEL:

How odd, right? You were excellent, too. Ah, the Emmy game! Maybe this year do not submit a scene with Maura in it or double check with what she is submitting. (Laughs) But the two of you are so good together. Were there a couple moments in the past where you felt that you and Maura rocked and were awesome as Carly and Jack?

MICHAEL PARK:

The break up scene when they broke up four years ago. That was a special time for both of us and the first time we really showed each other a different side of our characters. That is saying something since we have been working together for over a decade and again, I have said this before, the first time they fell in love in the cabin. It’s a special union that Jack and Carly have, and whenever they give each other those special glances and looks, it means something. When it is written really well for the two of us, it’s wonderful!

Maura WestMICHAEL:

So where else will we see Jack and Carly on the road?

MICHAEL PARK:

We have seen New York, Pittsburgh, South Carolina and then Jack and Carly go on a trip to Detroit..dot..dot…dot..

MICHAEL:

ATWT’s has had cancellation rumors swirling that the show is next on the chopping block since the demise of Guiding Light. You must be concerned?

MICHAEL PARK:

To comment on it makes it real. I lost a couple nights sleep there and I am not going to lie to you. What is happening with ABC switching All My Children to Los Angeles, and budgets are being cut across the board and every show is feeling what Guiding Light was feeling, and what As the World Turns and One Life to Live is feeling now. I have kids I have to feed, but I know I will be working, God willing.

MICHAEL:

Now two time Daytime Emmy Winner Tom Pelphrey (Mick) has started on ATWT. Have you even had a chance to work with him?

MICHAEL PARK:

NO!! I would love to work with him. There are other rumors that more people are coming and I love it.

MICHAEL:

Jack has been on the back burner for years now, until this huge, shall I say, shot in the arm. Was it tough just languishing for so long, when Jack is really one of the leads of the show?

Michael ParkMICHAEL PARK:

It was. I felt like for the first time I was working for my guarantee, and it was right around the time those rumors were coming out of the possible cancellation and so it was hard-core.  It was not like I had not been on the back-burner before, but this particular time was pretty stressful.  And everyone needs their turn, and if this is the payoff for being on the back burner, than boy, I am very fortunate and thankful.

MICHAEL:

You are also set to start in Martha Byrne’s new web series Gotham, which premieres next week on November 23rd at www.gothamtheseries.com.

MICHAEL PARK:

Yes. We shot three episodes, and it was fun. It’s great seeing all the people I used to work with at ATWT outside the studio. We shot it at Martha’s house, which is as much of a mansion as you can possibly get.

MICHAEL:

So you play Richard Manning, a very wealthy man?

MICHAEL PARK:

Of course I do! (Laughs) He is a playboy, and he is the most eligible bachelor of New York City, a JFK Jr. type, if you will. Richard manages a hedge fund and is in a bit of a jam, and we don’t know why. But, he has been married and in the process of getting a divorce. He has got two kids, and that is all we know of this guy. There is a bit of mystery about it. Back in high school, Richard and Catherine, Martha’s character, dated a bit and they are reunited at this St. Jude’s benefit, of course. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

How did your participation in the project come about? I am assuming Martha came to you and said, “Want to be in my webisodes?”

Michael ParkMICHAEL PARK:

Well, we went out to LA and talked to a bunch of people and found out the state of the union basically, and where daytime television may be going and what we can do to spark interest in certain shows. A person told us, “Take the project in your own hands and try to make some buzz with it on the Internet, because that is where the next wave of entertainment is going.”

MICHAEL:

Are you a partner on the project?

MICHAEL PARK:

Actually not, it’s all Martha Byrne’s and her amazing idea. I hear Kin Shriner could be involved now, and Anne Sayre and Lisa Brown, as had already been reported, are working on the show. I am very happy with it.

MICHAEL:

Will you continue on with Gotham?

MICHAEL PARK:

Sure, as long as Martha will have me, or until she kills my character off. (Laughs)

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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