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Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On Dina’s Death & How It Will Impact Jack, His Final Scenes With Marla Adams & Taping During COVID-19

Photo: CBS

The Abbott family is reeling from the death of their mother, Dina Mergeron, who passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the end of last Friday’s episode; signaling the end of an era for Dina’s portrayer, Marla Adams.  In a pivotal and heart-breaking scene, Dina shares one last goodbye with her children: Traci (Beth Maitland), Ashley (Eileen Davidson) and of course, Jack (Peter Bergman).

Today, the drama continues as the Abbott’s grieve Dina’s death and its aftermath while they remember the life of their flawed mother. This puts Jack at the epicenter of the family, and like it, or not, the new head of the clan.  What does the future hold for him now?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman, who has embodied Jack for over 30 years on the top-rated CBS Daytime drama, to get his thoughts on: how Y&R needed to handle Dina’s death within the confines of the coronavirus pandemic and its safety protocols, what he felt about playing those final scenes with Marla Adams and the significance of the ‘teardrop of love’, and a preview of what fans can expect in the coming days as the impact of Dina’s death will be felt by the Abbott children and extended family.

 

An actor’s actor, you can always expect a conversation with Peter to be forthright, candid and enlightening, and this one was no different.  Here’s what one of the genre’s absolute best had to share about the significance of this story and more.

How has it been returning to Y&R during the pandemic?  I bet you never thought in all of your years in daytime, that you would be doing your scenes socially-distanced, sitting or standing, so far apart from your castmates.

Courtesy/CBD

PETER:  Just getting back to work felt great, loved that.  I wasn’t involved really in romantic scenes at this point, so that I didn’t have to do.  So, all in all, I was very happy to be back, and socially-distancing didn’t really bother me at all, and then Dina died.  Doing that from six feet away was just awful.  You saw the limits at a time where not any of us could be within six feet of each other; where you would usually hold a hand, stroke a brow, and talk softly.  So, I think the writers did what they needed to do to make it work for Dina’s exit.  We are in the middle of COVID, in case anybody forgot, and so you have to ask, ‘Does America really want to watch an elderly woman die in the middle of the Abbott living room or anywhere else?’  So, we had to have Dina’s exit without looking at a dead body, out of respect for the times we are living in.  We had to do a strong, powerful, pivotal scene with our hands tied behind our backs.

Courtesy/CBS

It’s so interesting that you say that because that’s how I felt watching it, knowing what it would have been like, if Jack, Ashley and Traci would have been with Dina at her bedside, up till the end, for instance.  But all of that said, Peter, I got so choked up in your last moments with Marla.  Jack is just sitting there and Dina is telling him how much she loved him and you’re doing the thing that only Peter Bergman can do as the tears well-up in your eyes.  As we have talked about previously, my mom died from complications from Alzheimer’s, so these are always tough types of scenes for me to watch.  I am sure it was also for those in the audience, who have lost a loved one to this disease, many of whom reached out to me on social media following its airing.

PETER:  It’s got to be tough for you to watch.  I get that.

Photo: Ed McGowan/Plain Joe Studios

Yes, so I felt for Jack and Dina in the moment as a son and his mother.  But what did you think about how the scene was written, and what Dina was saying to Jack and his sisters as her final goodbyes to her children and their reactions to it?

PETER:  As written, something in this necklace triggers something in Dina that brings her out of a stupor, brings her out of the murk, the fog for a brief instant to tell the people who she cares the most about that she loves them in slightly different ways.  I have, with everything in me, a struggle to always add in there, “I have a complicated relationship with my mother.”  I’ve added that line in there so many times over the years, you have no idea.  It was a complicated relationship because by the time she dies, there is no kind of straightening that out, there is no kind of Jack looking for answers. The depth of what Ashley is feeling, what Traci is feeling, what Jack is feeling, were kind of lost because of the way we had to do it. The writers had to do it, so I’m not blaming anyone, but because of the way we had to do it, there was no, “Wow, why isn’t Ashley crying?  Why is she just so stoic that this isn’t touching her at all?” because she can’t go there. Traci feeling like she found her place in the family simply by Dina saying, “You’re the beating heart of this family,” and Jack, who is doing the right thing, “She should leave peacefully, she should leave feeling loved, we should all be here, we should give her nothing but love,” damn, this is complicated.  You couldn’t have any of those things.  .  Hopefully, some of that slid in there and we wedged some of those complexities into it, but it was hard to write a complex scene with the situation as it was.  We needed to get it done it one day.  We did not need to drag this out.  Again, were it not COVID time, sure, let’s drag it out.  Let’s spend some time on this.  People die.  Let’s watch the family process a death.

Photo: CBS

I just think of what it all means for Jack moving forward.  Dina basically tells him, “You’re in charge of the family. Look after the family.” That’s kind of where it’s been going for Jack this whole time.  I don’t know if that’s what Jack wanted, but that’s where he is ending up.

PETER:  Right!  That’s where he ends up, and you know, this has been a long time coming.  Dad dies, and it is pretty clear that he’s got to step up, and his mom comes into town, and she’s not just his mother.  She’s Ashley’s mother; she’s Traci’s mother, we’ve got to look out for her and give her the dignity and things like that.  Now, there is just no getting around it.  Jack is the head of the family.  That’s the way it fell.  Twenty-five years ago, was Jack ready to be head of anything?  Absolutely not, but I think enough has happened to Jack now: enough heartache, enough growth, enough introspection, enough losing people, that Jack might just be ready for this job.

Courtesy/CBS

When Marla Adams came back to Y&R 2017, and they started telling the Alzheimer’s storyline, it brought up such abandonment issues for Jack and rightfully so, about how a mother could just leave her family and children,  Throughout all that,  you did such poignant work.

PETER:  I wanted that to be in there at the very end.  One of the powerful parts in this whole thing is that Jack wanted to scream at Dina every bit as much as he wanted to hug her.  That was there for quite a while, and Jack had to kind of come to terms with, “Hey, you’ve been leaning on this excuse for quite a time.  She’s here.  She can’t do you any harm.  She feels bad about what happened.  What do you want, Jack?”

Photo: CBS

One of the highlights of this storyline was when Y&R explored the history and relationship between the siblings, Jack, Ashley and Traci.  We saw their younger versions as the show flash-backed to when Dina left John and the Abbott family.

PETER:  Between the writers and Peter Bergman, we built this story that the night that Dina left, Dad was upstairs with the girls, they were weeping inconsolably, there was no fixing it, there was no telling them that everything was going to be all right.  He didn’t want to lie to them and say she will be right back, he told them, “She’s not coming back,” and he comes downstairs, and Jack is fourteen-years-old, and a little confused, but decided to say to his dad, “Hey, can I help?”  He looks across the room, and his dad is weeping, first time he had ever seen that.  His father is weeping, and he said, “Jack, you’re going to have to help me with the girls.  I can’t do all of this,” and it changed Jack’s life forever.  Jack was a parent to Ashley for a good part of their relationship.  So, all of this stuff with Jack’s identity, all of the fighting with Ashley, all of the Jabot madness is Ashley finally getting to say, “I don’t need a father!  You’re not my father.  Stop talking to me like you’re going to fix things for me!  I’m sick of it.”  All done by Dina … all truly caused by Dina.

Courtesy/CBD

In my interview with Marla, she told me that at the end of her last scene, you and many others came back to the set to pay tribute to her.

PETER:  We did.  The show had arranged it, and Tony Morina, the executive producer, stepped out on the soundstage with a microphone, and Marla sat on the sofa in the Abbott living room. Tony began telling a lovely, lovely story about how far back his relationship with her goes because Marla and Tony wife’s, Sally Sussman (Ex- head writer, Y&R), also had a long-standing relationship.  Tony was just so grand and gracious in saying that there are some people who, if they weren’t an actor, they’d be this or that or the other thing, but that Marla was born to be an actress.  That’s what she is, and it was so generous.  I think she got three and a half years that she didn’t expect to get out of this.  It was supposed to be a six-month storyline, and four years later, she was still there, and it was a good thing for her, and a unique story turn for the rest of us.  It really was.  It was a powerful thing, and now the Abbott family has a new shape.  There are three adults there: Ashley has established her independence, she is not around as much, she is back and forth between Paris, and Genoa City, Traci is trying to be as supportive and kind as she can be, but essentially, Jack is in the big house by himself.

Yep!  Well, now we’ve got to find Jack a good woman.

PETER:  Yes, or a bad woman.

… Or a bad woman!  I’ll take him in a relationship with someone to stir things up.  I also hear coming up, there will be the reading of Dina’s will.  Is there anything you can tease about that?

PETER:  There is a will read, yes.  No one knows what to expect, and Dina … in the end… comes through for almost everybody…

Courtesy/CBS

Well … that ought to be good.

PETER:  Yep… really comes through for almost everybody, and you know, the Abbott children are wealthier, and all three of them are alone, and in no small thanks to Dina for that.  These are three adults who have been very unlucky in love.  Of course, this is the next challenge.  I don’t mean to assume that I have any idea of what you went through in losing your mom, but there is a point at which you also have to let go and say, “Okay, now it is just me, and what do I want to do with this life?  I’ve used this as a reason not to move forward for a good while.  What am I going to do now?”  I think the next turn in the Jack Abbott story comes pretty organically.  Dina’s death frees Jack to be just as alone as he has ever been.

No matter what Jack does, including the bad things, you always see the inner-pain that is very palpable within him, as you have portrayed him.

PETER:  Yes, but he really has grown in the last 30 years.  Jack is hungry for more right now, and he couldn’t really be that way with Mom in the house.  He didn’t have time for that.  Now he has all of the time in the world.  So, we’ll see what he does with that.

Courtesy/CBD

I understand there is a funeral for Dina, but it will be off-camera?  I guess, because of COVID, it is better that way.

PETER:  That’s true and it’s off camera, that’s correct.  What’s important at most of these things isn’t what happens at the gravesite, it is what happens at the reception afterwards, and that is also a fun turn.  So, they all agree as a family they are going to do it at Society, and they kind of close the joint and make it their own little party, and someone shows up who isn’t expected, and it throws a really, really different vibe into the whole thing, and everybody has to adapt.  It’s actually fun, what it turns into.  It turns into a memory fest with crazy stories of Dina.

Courtesy/CBS

Do you have a favorite moment, or memory, of a scene you played with Marla?

PETER:  I think I had a day where Jack tried to get through to her and tell her, “Do you realize the damage you did?  Do you realize?” and she wasn’t able to take it in, and he went to Traci, and he said, “I want to shake her.  I want to yell at her… and I want to protect her.”  I thought there was something just so rich about that.  That was my favorite moment, my favorite part of it, when Jack finally said, “She’s going, man.  We’ve got to get this conversation done now.  We’ve got to talk this through,” and he was too late.   She was too far along with Alzheimer’s.  She wasn’t up to it.  She couldn’t do it.

Photo: JPI

And now here is Jack; and his parents are both gone.  There is no Jerry Douglas or Marla Adams on the show as both John and Dina have passed on within the history of The Young and the Restless.

PETER:  Again, you were generous enough to share your own personal experience, but isn’t it amazing?  Wow, you’re the grownup now.  Isn’t it amazing?  That’s what the Abbott’s are going through: just what you went through.  There is no older generation to turn to for anything.  We are the older generation.  It’s powerful stuff, and I’m really, really grateful for anytime that Ashley, Jack, and Traci are together talking about those things, talking about, “Wow, okay, that just happened… where do we go from here?”  It’s going to be really interesting.  If you asked me, “Over the last 30 years that you’ve played Jack Abbott, have there been many times where you’ve thought, ‘I’ve got no idea where this is going!’”  I would say, “Yeah, right now.”  I’ve got no idea where we are going with this.

Courtesy/CBS

There has been much speculation that the “teardrop of love” necklace will lead Jack to a new romance, or some new adventure in his life.  They spent a lot of time mentioning it in short order, that it would seem it’s not just to bring Dina some closure.  What are your thoughts on it?

PETER:  I think it has legs.  I think you’re going to hear about it again. There is something in there, and I don’t know if it’s the teardrop’s magic charm or that its history is not what it was, or it gets stolen.  I don’t know, but I think we have spent enough time saying ‘teardrop of love’, that there could be a story there.

In Dina’s final moments where Jack brings her the ‘teardrop of love’, wasn’t it symbolic to her because it was her acknowledgement of having her family back together and with her at all times? There is a back-story to that piece of jewelry as well.

PETER:  The point of the necklace is, “This was when I was truly happy, when I had this necklace, when it is all back together,” and maybe we are to know something more about the teardrop…?  I don’t know.  So, this was a gift to her before Jack was born.  She wore it home from the hospital when she brought him home, but we don’t know exactly what year she got it, and we don’t know exactly what year she lost it.  It was stolen, and it was on the black market for a while, and Victor (Eric Braeden) was looking into it.  It was clear that it was very important to Dina.  So, Jack, against his own wishes, said, “No, I’ve got to do the right thing.  I’ve got to try to trace this thing down.  It clearly means something to her.  Maybe she is trying to tell us something.  God only knows.”  So, he did the right thing, not because, “I want to make Mommy happy,” but because he forced himself to do the right thing, to find the damn necklace, and to see what this is about.  Then, we saw the affect it had when he gave it to her.

Photo: CBS

It’s always good to chat and check-in with you during these key and historical moments in the life of the character of Jack Abbott.  There have been many throughout your time on Y&R, and it will be interesting to see where this goes from here.

PETER:  It will be, and I’m telling you, this is a real moment.  Normally, we just go from one story into the next, into the next, and this one has been hanging for so long that, “Okay, now that it is over, wow, what is going to happen to Jack?”  I’m just as curious as everybody else.

So, what do you think will happen next for Jack?  Did you reach for the hankies in Peter’s final scenes with Marla Adams?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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They did a nice job. GH’s story with Mike was much better but I am glad that Y&R didnt try and copy it. They did their own thing. It just wasnt nearly as powerful. It is weird that on Y&R they dont ever get close to each other. We as viewers know why BUT over at GH they do a much better job of being socially distant BUT letting the actors get closer and actually touching each other when someone needs a hug or a kiss. Like Peter said, its tough and sad to lose his onscreen mother and no one is holding her hand or giving her a hug goodbye. Anyway, lets hope Jack finds love with the necklace and it could be someone who is just six feet away, Lauren! She would almost want to choose anyone other than Ted Danson or Steve Martin! I love Christian and respect that he lets it all hang out and embraces his age BUT, the hair is atrocious! They could have dyed his hair and let half the gray/white come in and make it look more natural and less shocking! Tracey has had work done but she looks good and makes good choices. Christian LeBlanc needs a redo on the hairdo!

It was odd with them not being able to be around Dina. I understood why, but still sad. I’m sorry to see Dina and Marla go.

It will be interesting to see what is next for the family. I’m over the Teardrop of Love so I hope we have seen the end of it.

I also hope they don’t put Jack with Lauren.

I really hope when things get back to normal each Abbott child is able to have a dream or a vision of Dina and the audience gets the final real emotional goodbye that was stolen from the actors and audience
So sad that there is no longer a matriach or patriach original longstanding elder in genoa city. Days has Maggie, Victor, Doug and Julie. B n b Eric and Pam, Y n r…nobody. Shame.
Cant say Jack getting a love is a priority anymore. At this point I’d rather see him have flings like Kate on Days.If its true Grace is coming back that would be intresting. He s much funner as a playboy. Leave the romance for the younger characters who we havent tired of yet.

I thought Dina on Y and R’s final scenes were superb. I am not sure how old she is but she is definitely a wonderful actress. She carried herself with such elegance and grace. I am amazed at how she was able to memorize all of her lines. She will be a character I will remember for years to come. She is and will continue to be the backbone of the Abbott Family.

YR & Bold is the ONLY shows doing social distancing. Other soaps and primetime shows are doing everything as they normally would (including love scenes). They are just being careful with testing. YR & Bold feels impersonal now. It’s hard to connect to their stories now. About to tune out.

Lindsey
Yes. I agree. Hardly do we see two people together except for Devon and Elena because they are a couple in real life. The rest are keeping their distance from each other. I think they do a pretty good job though and we can live without the love scenes for awhile. I guess that’s why they gave Thomas on B&B his very own Hope to snuggle with, ugh!

Jack needs to hook up with Gloria now that she’s back. They’re delicious together.

Illustrious career…. mind bending … stratosphere

I’ve always held’ Peter Bergman’ Dr. Cliff Warner AND Nina Cortlandt, AMC

WON OVER

Just Jack had…. red ? REAL’ly ?

celebratory curtain call – Jack Abbott AND Beth Chamberlain, ex-GL Beth

COME ON

Y&R

let this be

heart soar

I can’t help but remark: how Marla Adams… unabashedly share’ how she and Beth Maitland are like soul sisters… and how she shares that Beth Maitland is the best actress on the show

that’s heart to heart

i’d ring it up

happy dance to these two ladies

Hang in there Jack, there is plenty of Hope in your future!

I am really upset seeing older actors out. Dina Mergeron could have easily been the town matriarch like Kay was.

I watched this episode with tears. Both my parents suffered from Alzheimer’s. My mother was not unlike Dina. A morning of clarity just before she died. I commend the writers, producers and others for portraying this like it really can be for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other diseases. People often have that moment of peace right before their death. Accurate portrayal.

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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