@NBCDays While the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour continues to roll on, last night was the extravagant NBC party at the SLS Hotel in West Hollywood where stars from all the NBC series (including E!, Bravo, USA, Oxygen, MSNBC and more) mingled with the press to chat about their respective series and upcoming new seasons.
Of course, I had my eagle eye out for cast members from NBC’s long-running daytime serial Days Of Our Lives and who ended up being there but the soon-to-return Deidre Hall (Marlena) and Drake Hogestyn (John Black). (I hoped some of the other returning cast members – Patrick Muldoon, Matthew Ashford and Christie Clark I grabbed some one-on-one time with them and, as you can see, had to get a picture with them to talk about how they ended up back on the show and exactly how John and Marlena return to Salem. [My quick chat with Galen Gering can be found RIGHT HERE.)
Jim Halterman: As I’m sure you hear all the time, I’ve watched the show since I was kid…
Drake Hogestyn: And why did you start watching?
Jim: Because my mother watched it and I got hooked when I was 10 years old!
Drake: This is what we were just talking about. Over the years, Days has tried different things to get younger demographics. Some work, some don’t work but one thing I know is they’re bringing back characters like John and Marlena and part of the audience for whatever reason is going to turn that TV set back on and as long as that TV set is on, younger eyeballs are going to come into the room and go, ‘What are you watching? What are you watching?’ That is the best way to get the younger demographic nowadays and that’s what NBC is doing.
Jim: Have you kept up with the show while you’ve been away? If so, what do you think about the last few years?
Deidre Hall: I haven’t kept up so I can’t speak about that but I know that when Greg Meng talked about me coming back there were a lot of things that had to be done right before that could happen. and I wrote a book called Deidre Hall’s Kitchen Closeup and was on a book tour with Greg, who was promoting his Days of Our Lives book (Days Of Our Lives: 45 Years: A Celebration In Photos). He ended up saying ‘When are you coming back to the show?’ I said, ‘I don’t have any plans to come back.’ He said ‘We’d like you to’ and we all smiled and that’s how that went. Then later he asked ‘What would it take to get you back?’ And I said, ‘Well, it would take being invited.’ Greg turned to me and said ‘You’re invited.’ That’s when it began in that moment. Greg has that integrity, I think, and I thought ‘I think he’s not kidding!’ The changes he has made were profound. He’s changed Executive Producers, himself and Noel Maxam – dream team! He’s got two new writers who have written for us before and now combine all those talents that believe in the same code of Days, which is core family values, high drama, love and romance and away from the science fiction stuff we’ve been getting into later. It’s Days 2.0 and it’s what you came to love many, many years ago and they’ll come back and see it again.
Drake: I also did the book tour with Greg and he’s really hands-on and he’s been involved for a very long time and when it got down to the point where he actually called and said ‘I think it’s time to talk’ and all of a sudden things happened really fast. The old writing team was out, the old producing team was out. I said ‘Greg, are you our new showrunner?’ and I thought who else could step into this position? I said to my wife that Greg Mentz and Noel Maxam would be a perfect marriage. When I heard that and then bringing back writers Marlene McPherson and Darrel Ray Thomas, it would take us back to the 90s when we were at the top of the game. They really know the show so this has been a dream come true.
Jim: Can you tell me how John and Marlena come back?
Deidre: There’s a big event and we have a brand new set that’s been designed for the show. It’s the new Town Square and so we come back essentially to help dedicate the Square. We also come back because there are some little problems in Salem that we’ve gotten dragged into and we hit the ground running. We’re at that party and people come, people go and it’s high drama for five solid days.
Drake: Then the set they built, it’s the whole width of NBC and it’s called The Horton Center and it’s got a plethora of stores all around and it will be the inside/outside type of set where you can go inside different doors and you can turn things around. It will be ideal. As far as the character John Black, he is recovering from when he left the show. He intercepted the toxic needle that was meant for Doc (Marlena) from the evil psychiatrist and John is just starting to gain his strength and, at the same, there’s an event where the authorities are waiting for him to reach American soil. This storyline is an umbrella storyline which because of that event, it’s going to encompass all the core members of the show in a way where everyone is going tro be a little bit of odds with each other so it’s going to take a lot of strength in the couple…when she says we hit the ground running, everybody all of a sudden, everybody’s life suddenly changes and the show is going in a whole new direction.
Deidre: Everybody has a point of view, everyone is equally invested in that point of view and it’s reality-based.
Jim: And John and Marlena are together, right?
Drake: They are together.
Deidre: Yes they are!
Jim: That’s what I needed to hear. I can’t wait!!
Days Of Our Lives airs every weekday on NBC. For more on Days check www.nbc.com/days.