Beliebers have nothing on the fans of Days of Our Lives.
The iconic daytime drama is celebrating its 50th birthday this year by publishing a book entitled Days of Our Lives 50 Years, chronicling a half century worth of lies, mendacity, and bare-chested men — not to mention providing more or less a crash course in the evolution of hair, makeup and wardrobe over the course of the history of daytime television.
A trio of cast members from the show, seen weekdays at 1 p.m. on Global, were in town recently for a book signing at Signal Hill Mall Indigo Books, and took some time out beforehand to sit down for a chat with The Herald about the days of their lives performing on a legendary American TV show that just turned 50.
“It’s the history of American television,” says Greg Vaughan, who plays hunky good guy Eric, “when you think about it. It really is.
“It’s funny to be part of something that’s so historic,” he says, “when we’re talking about the book made here to commemorate the show, and its history and the cast — past and present.
“Sometimes,” he says, “you take it for granted, walking down the halls (of the studio where the show is shot in Burbank), “and seeing these old throwback photos from like, Episode 3,000 — and now we’re on Episode 15,000. It’s an incredible benchmark (to turn 50).”
“You can say Days of Our Lives almost anywhere around the world,” says Jen Lilley, who plays recovering addict Theresa, “and people will say, ‘Like the sands through the hour-glass’.”
What they all keep coming back to is the incredible passion of the fans.
“Daytime fans have us in their living room five days a week,” says Lilley. “They feel like we’re part of their family. They see us more often than most of their family, right?”
“It’s the multi-generational thing,” says Lauren Koslow, who has played baddie Kate on the show since 1996.
“We’re seeing that a lot because on this tour,” she says, “we’re meeting a lot of fans at the book signings and you still see grandmother, mother, father, grandfather, (and even) teenagers.
“It is the perfect kind of structure,” she says, “since it is a multi-generational audience and our stories are (too). That’s another unique thing about our show — we’ve had stories for all generations for 50 years.”
And, while the (big, fat, photo-filled) coffee table book will stir up memories of five decades worth of daytime drama, what’s equally impressive, says Koslow, is how well the show has turned the page on a half-century by reinventing itself for the binge-watching, content-on-demand generation.
“OK, we got to 50,” says Koslow. “But (we’re) definitely looking beyond (that) towards the future too — and how do you make this genre work, in a contemporary time?
“I really think they’re (the writers and executive producers) dealing with that,” she says. “The show looks great.”
While they act out the story arcs of their characters, the cast don’t have any input into the often outrageous plot twists that propel the show along, Koslow says.
“That’s all up to the writers, (and) the executive producers,” she says. “Actually, I’ve never done that — I don’t know if it would be a good idea if you did, because who knows — be careful what you ask for.
“It’s an extraordinarily difficult job (writing these characters),” she says. “Imagine — having a canvas that’s filled with so many characters.”
It turns out even the actors get surprised by those twists.
“You get your script about a week ahead of time,” says Lilley. “I don’t (actually) memorize it until the night before (we shoot), because if I try to memorize it ahead of time, I’m going to get really scrambled with that day’s scenes, because you’re shooting such a massive quantity of pages every day.
“It’s the element of surprise,” adds Vaughan, “and it’s sometimes good to go into it that way, without knowing which way you’re going to go down the pipeline, which way you’re going to make a turn — who you could be rumbling in the sheets with.”
However, when it comes to their characters, maybe Koslow has more input into shaping Kate than she originally lets on. She got a degree in design from Virginia State University, and set out to be a costume designer in her early days in theatre.
“A lot of times,” says Koslow, “when I get a script, I look at the clothing — and when I go in for fittings, it’s all about that.
“Over the years,” she says, “I have definitely collaborated with our costume designer on the look (of Kate).”
And just as the wardrobes of the characters change with the times, so too, do the show’s storylines, says Lilley.
“It’s still completely viable and relevant,” she says. “Soaps have always had a pulse on whatever’s going on — current issues — and Days is a show that’s never been afraid to tackle massive social and political issues — so that’s really cool as well.”