It has been an eventful few weeks for “Days of Our Lives.” The show abruptly changed headwriters and let go of numerous actors before earning 15 Daytime Emmy nominations earlier this week.
Wednesday night, the Paley Center hosted “An Evening With Days of Our Lives,” a panel discussion hosted by Alison Sweeney (Sami) with numerous cast members in attendance. DOOL’s legendarily passionate fanbase took full advantage of the opportunity to express their opinions to the cast and Powers That Be. People were cheering and booing Sami’s three current potential romantic pairings, and, more seriously, expressing how much the storyline about Will coming out of the closet meant to them. One viewer even traveled all the way from Portland, Oregon to share her concerns that some online criticism would cause the show to shelve the storyline.
Bruce Evans, the NBC executive who is in charge of the show, assured her that the storyline would continue, saying, “We wouldn’t have gone there if we didn’t think it had real value, and boy, has Chandler [Massey] just batted it out of the park. Certainly, we care about fan reaction and things that are written. But we also have to stay the course. Fans have various favorites, and they want you to pull to them. If we tried to satisfy everyone, we wouldn’t have a show.”
On the red carpet, prior to the event, the stars gushed about DOOL’s Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Daytime Drama. “I think the show deserves it. In the past perhaps sometimes it’s been overlooked. It would be really great if we actually won some,” said Galen Gering (Rafe).
Bryan Datillo (Lucas) concurred. “We are a quality show and we are a Emmy-type show and we have been for a while. There are a lot of years where we just didn’t get it. So I’m hoping this is our year.”
Chandler Massey (Will), who was nominated in the Younger Actor category, was singled out for praise by his costars. “We all know that Chandler is the man,” said Datillo of his on-screen son. “So I think that was an obvious choice. He definitely earned that gig.”
Lisa Rinna (Billie) agreed. “As long as Chandler Massey got nominated, all is right with the world. He is one of the best actors I have ever worked with or seen. That he’s 21 years old blows my mind every time I work with him. If I’m in a room with him, I stand there in complete and utter awe. That kid is going to be huge. Mark my words. A huge movie star.”
Massey himself was modest about his accomplishment. “I’m more excited about the acting than the accolades but it’s nice to be acknowledged for the work you put into something.”
Datillo was also thrilled that Matthew Ashford (Jack) was nominated. “It’s long overdue. I watched him when I used to watch the show before I started. He’s an amazing actor, always has been. So to see him finally get his due … it gives me hope that maybe someday, maybe [I'll be nominated].”
The actors also expressed enthusiasm for the new headwriter Gary Tomlin. “Gary was executive producer when I first got on the show and I love him,” said Massey. “It’s sad to see Darryl and Marlene go because they wrote this story, and so many great stories, and I absolutely loved them — mad love to them — but I also feel confident that the show is still in good hands.”
Said Gering, “Gary Tomlin brought in my character and did a wonderful job, him and Dena Higley. Obviously, Dena left as did Gary, but now he’s back so I have the utmost faith and confidence that they will again get back to the roots of this character.” Gering spoke candidly about his frustrations with the way his character has been written for the past few months.” You just can’t have these really big pillars out there with no braces holding it up. You need those. That’s what the audience ultimately invests in is those pillars. I think they were really successful at that so I hope they get back to that so they can make choices for a reason.”
Next week, the highly anticipated scenes in which Will comes out to his parents will air. Datillo previewed the scenario. “[Lucas] is the mediator. He’s the filling in the Oreo. He’s trying to make sure Will feels accepted enough and comfortable to keep telling us what’s going on, but then he’s got to make sure Sami’s understanding enough to listen… I think without Lucas in that situation, it would be a lot more toxic.”
Datillo promises that Will will eventually get a love life. “I’ve had scenes already with Sonny and I ask Sonny his intentions. It was very awkward to play the scene out because it’s normally a scene you have with a girlfriend, or if you had a daughter you would be talking to her boyfriend, but to be talking to Sonny about what his intentions are with Will, Lucas is kind of awkward about that. His main goal is to understand that both of them are on board.”
Both Datillo and Gering think their characters are the right man for Sami. Said Gering, “I think there’s a lot of unfinished story there. I don’t think they really wrapped things up… Certainly after being supposedly in love as much as he was, suddenly to brush that all aside and never address it was, I think, a mistake. I hope that they will in some way. Because I know I invested a lot in it as an actor, as a person. As to whether or not they end up together, I don’t know. I think that they’re really an interesting pairing. I also think that it can’t always be about a bigger thing acting upon them. I think that they could have their own problems. I think that Sami could retain the craziness she has and he could talk her down, but I think one of the things that attracted him to her was her insanity.”
Datillo countered, “I think that Sami and Lucas have this special relationship because of their history and how they grew up together, being each other’s first loves. But it’s not easy to compete with double G, as I call him. But Rafe is such a good guy with morals that I don’t know if he could actually stomach Sami that long.”