Shelly Hennig (Lori Wilson/Soaps.com)
On September 28, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and Days of Our Lives presented "Celebrating 45 Years of Days of our Lives" at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood, California. The event consisted of panels made up of past and present cast members, producers and executives, who discussed the creative, business and emotional side of working in Salem. Before the evening got underway, I had the opportunity to talk with several members of the cast, as well as executive producer Ken Corday, about their time with the NBC soap.
Judi Evans, who collectively has been on
Days of Our Lives for about 10 years, was the first one to walk the red carpet, and to give me a little scoop on what's to come for Adrienne. "She's trying to help Stephanie stay on the straight and narrow and I think trying to kind of work her way back to, Justin and Adrienne are trying to work their way back to each other. Finding it difficult though," she teased.
As for her thoughts on why the show has lasted 45 years, she mused, "I definitely think Days has longevity because it has everything. It has romance, it has relationship issues, topical issues, action – all different kinds of action. I definitely think it has longevity. It has really loyal die-hard fans that I think a show needs."
Book Cover (Corday)
A two-year veteran of the show, Eric Martsolf, stopped by and expressed his joy at the turn his character Brady Black has taken. "Things are actually really, really wonderful. I'm currently in a storyline that I adore. I've gone very dark. Brady Black has essentially gone black. He's black hearted right now and it's fun for an actor to play, especially when I've been on the straight and narrow path for many, many years now. I'm embracing the storyline very much," he enthused.
Deidrick (Lori Wilson/Soaps.com)
When asked what's going on with Brady and Nicole (Arianne Zucker), Martsolf responded, "Brady and Nicole are like an enigma. I don't know if they're together. I can honestly stand here and tell you, I don't know if they are manipulating each other, I don’t know if they have deep affection for each other, I don’t know if they hate each other. It's such a weird complex relationship that they have because there's obviously some feelings there, but they both have this crazy tendency now to be manipulative and dive off the deep end, so with that kind of foundation, how good can a relationship be? I don’t know, but I think it's going to be fun to watch. I like them together personally because it's so volatile. It's so different from my real relationship, which is so stable. I want my soap relationship to be the exact antithesis of my home."
The newest member of the cast, Camila Banus, who will first air as Gabi on October 4, previewed what's in store for her character in the aftermath of losing her sister after Arianna (Lindsay Hartley) gets hit by a car and dies. As she explained, "She loves Rafe to death, but she's very, very close to her sister. To lose her and so fast and so crazy like that is very hard on her. I could just imagine myself losing my sister. I would be devastated. So Gabi's going to be, I'm not going to say she's a mess, but she's going to be a mess. [laughs] It's a very hard topic to go through so there's a lot of things that are going to be happening within that tragedy that even push her to the farthest limit she could ever think of."
Press line (Lori Wilson/Soaps.com)
While Hope may be in a bad place, her portrayer loved the dark turn good girl Hope took. "It was so much fun," she raved. "Are you kidding? It was great to be able to work with John Callahan (Doc Baker). I love working with everybody and it challenges me also. It was a fun story. Now I'm getting to another one and this one is really very juicy." Unfortunately, since they are so far ahead shooting wise, she couldn’t tease anything more.
Next in line to dish her character was Shelley Hennig, who wasn’t exactly sure what's going to happen with Stephanie, who she has been playing for three and a half years, but if it were up to her, she'd be right in the mix with the boys. "I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens with the Philip/Melanie/Nathan/Stephanie storyline. I don’t know if the Stephanie/Philip thing is over. I haven't heard anything, but I think that's always still an option and I think Jay (Johnson, Philip) and I work well together. I mean, I would love to have all the boys fighting over me and I think that needs to happen. Nathan and Philip need to fight over Stephanie now."
Even though Joseph Mascolo felt 'talked out' by the time he reached me, he shared his thoughts on his evil character Stefano, who he has been playing on and off since 1982. "You never know. With my storyline it's every week something new happens. He's got his claws on everybody and he knows what's happening to everybody at all times. He's a very controlling figure. Right now there's been a wonderful thing they've done by having my character marry the Katherine (Lauren Koslow) character - two tough people together. I think the audience is really liking it because we see these two tough people actually falling in love with each other. It makes it very interesting."
McKay (Lori Wilson/Soaps.com)
Would his becoming a DiMera change Chad? Casey relayed, "I think right now Chad's at a point where he doesn't have any love in his life and I think once he's brought into a family where there is an upbringing and love for the family, I think maybe it would change the way he looks at things."
When Crystal Chappell (Carly) stopped by, she expressed her delight at Days of our Lives celebrating its 45th Anniversary. "It's been so interesting to be back and I'm really proud of the show. I'm so happy its celebrating its 45th…Having been on a show that's been canceled (as Olivia on Guiding Light), it's so nice to see a show celebrate its 45th and see it healthy and see all the good energy around it."
Concerning her character, Crystal teased, "Everything that happens, the secret she's been keeping with Chloe, all of that comes out with Melanie. So that kind of rips that relationship apart for the time being. She's also going to be helping Bo help Hope." But don't expect the latter issue to affect her relationship with Bo, as Crystal mused, "I think that Carly and Bo are the best of friends. I think they are really grown up, mature, best of friends, I've-got-your-back people. I think there's a love there that's so honest and so pure that they can both handle whatever happens."
As for her other series Venice, Chappell teased what's to come in season two: "We pick up where we left off. There's something that happens to the Colonel that causes his relationship with Gina to change. Jamie gets involved in a not so great way. Guya gets a new love interest. Lara and Ani's relationship is romantic and beautiful and lovely. The episodes are much longer. The premiere episode is 16 ½ minutes and they run about 20 minutes so people are going to get a lot more story."
Newly returning Melissa Reeves told me she was thrilled to be back as Jennifer, but couldn’t give anything away about her character's storyline. However she did shed light on what Jennifer's other half Jack is up to. "Well, they're saying right now Jack is on a walkabout and needs a little time alone so he can find himself, which is so typical for Jack and Jennifer. It makes perfect sense, and we never know what's around the corner."
When asked what she remembers about her early days playing Jennifer in the 1980s, she marveled, "I remember that I was my daughter's age, which is really hard to believe. I look at her and I think, 'Wow, that's how old I was when I started Days.' So, I just see that so much now. I was so young and I didn’t know anything. I just think, I can't even believe I held on to a job for that long at that young of an age. I didn't really appreciate it as much as I should have, because you know, when you're young you don't think. You don’t think about anything."
Aside from getting some of the actors' perspective, I had the chance to talk to the head honcho, Executive Producer Ken Corday, who didn’t give me any scoop, but did share his thoughts on what has helped Days of our Lives endure over the years. "You talk to the veteran cast members and they'll tell you the same thing: Don't reinvent the wheel. Don't change the formula. You can take it out of the box, you can put it inside the box, but it's about family, romance, and the redemptive power of love between couples, family, whatever. Don't stray from that. Don't become reality. Don't become the news. Entertain people. So, we've been blessed, pure and simple, blessed."
When asked if he thought there was a future for Daytime on TV, he was quick to respond, "I do. I really do. Funny you should ask, the current president, and will be president of NBC until January, Jeff Zucker, called two hours ago and he said, 'Ken, I believe in 50 [years] for this show.' My breath was taken away. I said, 'Could you write the contract now?' I see great things in the future. I'm a real glass is half full, overflowing kind of guy."
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- Lori Wilson