I'm sorry, but I can't give you anymore insight, as I try not to speculate from rumors. But I do have a statement from Hillary B. Smith, reported through her website, regarding her newly signed contract :)) Hope this helps! ~Amy
"To the Fans that have been so supportive of Hillary and Nora during the last six months,
First, I must thank everyone for their loud and persistent outpouring of concern, love and support. You have blown me away and kept me smiling. I can't wait to have the opportunity to meet you all in person, some for the first time and some for the twentieth time. I don't believe in discussing business usually. I think it breaks the illusion that we work so hard to create. But because your input was so important in the final decision of this "negotiation", I thought it was only right that I address you directly with what happened.
There were no real negotiations happening during the fall. There was one gesture made by the network, but it was clear that there wasn't any real interest in writing for Nora at this time. The show had taken a different direction as is the nature of soaps. At a "Good-bye" chat with Brian Frons, (we have known each other for 24 years), we both expressed our sadness at how this had happened, and how sad this was for everyone involved, crew, cast, and especially the fans. After thirteen years, it should have been different. It was a wonderful conversation about a lot of things, but most importantly it opened the door for a creative resolution to the problem that was staring us in the face. He wished for more time. So the next day I offered to extend my contract for one year to give him that time.
We both want what is best for the character, the show and the fans, and we are hopeful that this time will start something that will satisfy the needs of those three things. At the end of the year, we may even have something more to talk about in another contract. This "one year" was my idea. ABC did not short-change me. Brian and I are both pleased with this extension. This is their time to use to the advantage of the show, to do right by the character and to do right by the fans that have been so incredibly vocal. After all, it's all about the play and the audience we do it for!
Because this transpired on my last day, you will not see Nora for a while. But hopefully the respirator hose will be gone by the next time you do see her. I know, you'll all miss my Emmy- worthy breathing! Don't worry, it's on my reel. ;-)"
Hillary B Smith