The Most WTF-y Casting News in a Long While

I made it back from Maine, only a little worse for the wear (the trip was awesome; United Airlines is not). But thank goodness I had cell reception there, because I received multiple texts yesterday morning about some truly wackadoo casting news that I’m still giggling over. This is so Days in its randomness, and it has me wishing it were a day later so I could post it as a “WTF Wednesday” instead.

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Tamara Braun is returning to Salem this winter — but not as cameo-crazed Taylor Walker, whom she played in 2011, but as Ava Vitali, a random mobster she played for six months in 2008 and won an Emmy for! According to Soap Opera Digest:

With Stephen Nichols (Steve) back in Salem, Tamara Braun (ex-Carly, GH et al) has returned as Ava Vitali, the role that won her an Emmy in 2009.

Is Ava a character I thought we’d ever see again? Absolutely not. Who’s next, the Parrot Man from Aremid? Caprice? I don’t think Ava has even been mentioned since her 2008 exit (well, partly because Steve and John, the two men with whom she was involved, were fired right afterward, but still). My guess is that this will be used to explain where Steve has been, and I suppose that works as well as anything. There’s no indication yet whether she’s on contract or just doing a brief stint, but if they would please give her a throwaway line about wearing her mother’s cameo, I might pee my pants with joy.

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14 Comments on “The Most WTF-y Casting News in a Long While”

  1. Jamie Says:

    This is very bizarre and unnecessary, but….I liked Ava. I liked her with robo-John, I thought they made an interesting couple, even though it was very short lived. Remember when his memory was on that microchip and his hair looked like the Michael Myers mask? Good times.

    I’ll never forgive her for killing Grandpa Shawn though. RIP

    At least she’s not coming back as Taylor. They’ve tried and failed in that role 3 times, hopefully they have finally realized the character just doesn’t work.

    • Jamie Says:

      Welcome back, btw! Hopefully you’ve caught up on ALL that you have missed in Salem since you’ve been gone. So much has happened!!! 😉

      • mykleraus Says:

        Thanks! And yes, I just watched Thurs-Mon, and I’m bowled over by how much I missed: Will acting like an idiot, Eric looking constipated, people talking about Clyde for hours on end…

    • mykleraus Says:

      I didn’t dislike her. I’m not sure I could see her as a long-term character (though you KNOW they wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to make her a long-lost DiMera), but I thought the character served a purpose and played to the actress’s strengths. She worked all right with RoboJohn (LOL, that hair) and as a friend to Nicole.

  2. rustyspigot Says:

    I was half expecting that damn cameo to be in the elephant with the diamonds.

  3. Dan Says:

    Ava is set to return in December while Steve will be back in August. I’m not sure what role she will play, but bringing back Ava shows a commitment to Steve and Kayla. I love how people are flipping out online while demanding ‘the vets’ have story. How can you have a story with no villains? The show desperately needs more villainous characters so I’d welcome her. Hell, I’d welcome any character who wasn’t played out by 2002. The show is desperately going to need characters who can stir the pot given the Salem’s hero parade that seems to be on its way to Salem.

    Tamara Braun earned an Emmy for Ava so I suspect that they plan on using that in marketing.

    Also, when did you become like Sami 🙂 Ava was a more significant character than Caprice or Parrot Man. It would be like bringing back Greta von Amburgh.

    • mykleraus Says:

      But Greta isn’t as funny to write as Parrot Man! 🙂

      (To be fair, Ava was only on for six months! At least Greta was a POV character for a few years. This is sort of like Serena coming back in 2023.)

      I’m wondering how they plan to use her. Didn’t they decide that she was only insane over Steve because her dad was drugging her, and then she moved on to John? If so, I wonder if this could be more John/Marlena-related. I would also be fine with this being follow-up to the plane crash that caused Grandpa Shawn’s death, somehow.

      I like Braun, and I liked her a hell of a lot more as Ava than Taylor (whom she played just like Ava, because that’s how she was written, except the writers wanted us to think she was an innocent heroine).

      • Dan Says:

        True regarding Greta. I’m just happy they didn’t rehire Hunter Tylo to play a not so dead Marina Toscano because that’s the kind of fan fiction this show has fallen back on in hard times in recent years.

        Given that Steve and Kayla have very little recent history to play on, I thought this was a good move. Honestly, I don’t know what they did with Ava. When Ava was on, I was without television for most of the school year. I only caught a bit of Ava during April break when she thought Hope was Kayla and planned on kidnapping her. I thought that was a brilliant twist that no one else would have played but a Higley type. By the summer, when I did start watching again, Ava was either gone or barely shown.

        Anyway, even if Ava was drugged, I think she was intended to be a significant part of Steve’s missing years, was she not? There is still story to play. Let’s just not hope we end up doing a J.J. / Eve redux with Joey / Ava.

        And I wouldn’t be against revisiting Serena under different circumstances. I don’t think the problem was Serena, but rather the dumb elephant. Again, playing the most basic denominator, a friendly work rivalry between Nicole and Serena that lead into a love quad between Nicole – Eric – Serena – Daniel with Daniel & Serena and Nicole & Eric as endgame would have been delightful. Then introduce Xander, with a different name not to anger the die hards, as the Kirakis cousin and let him mess with both couples before settling on a relationship with Theresa Donovan.

      • mykleraus Says:

        I could 100% see them stunt-casting Hunter Tylo as a back-from-the-dead-again Marina (and then forcing some relationship with Victor because of Isabella, or something). I would rather have Ava. Braun brings a great energy to the show.

        As I remember it, Steve was having doubts about marrying Ava but then was kidnapped by Stefano’s men right before their wedding. Something along those lines. I was never clear on if/how she knew him as “Steve,” considering he came back to Salem as Nick Stockton and I cannot believe that a Steve with his memory wouldn’t have come home to his family. It was weird, because despite their legitimate past, Ava just got OBSESSED with him, and then when they realized her father was drugging her, she kind of just shrugged, went off the pills, and moved on to John. I think there will probably be a bit of rewriting to try and sort that out when she returns.

        I did love the “Ava thinks Hope is Kayla” thing. That was a fun twist, and they milked a lot out of it. Plus it got Bo and Kayla together on the rescue mission, which I enjoyed.

        My main issue with Serena is the way they had her come barreling into the show at Nicole’s expense. I think what they *intended* was for us to feel like Nicole — “This bitch is full of it,” etc. But after months upon months of people telling Nicole what a lying piece of dishonorable trash she was, to have her cut down even more at the expense of this stranger was just exhausting. I don’t think Serena fundamentally didn’t work so much as her story setup didn’t work — and since we were given so little else to cling to, that sort of wrote the whole tale. I thought the friendship with Melanie ON TOP OF her past with Eric (and a random Kiriakis relation) was forced and unneeded, and I felt like we spent weeks hearing about how awesome she was. I also don’t think the writers did a good job of defining what was up with her arrival in Salem: she showed up to get the diamonds out of the statue, but she loved Eric, but would she have come for him without the diamonds? She seemed irritated by him most of the time when he wasn’t giving her access to the statue. If they had played the nuance more — she shows up in Salem, inquires about the statue, he charms her, she wants to leave but he gets her to stay, etc. — I think I’d have felt for her more. But the internal conflict was lost, which did her no favors. It’s a shame, because I like Archer and think she could’ve made any number of roles work.

      • Dan Says:

        Thanks for the Ava update. I assumed that Ava and Steve had significant history together for like four or five years.

        Anyway, I’ve realized that when I started watching (1992/1993) the supercouple era was pretty much over so I have no attachment to any of these people returning. It took me YEARS to think of Reckell as anything but Bo Brady #2 because Robert Kelker Kelly was always my Bo. Similarly, it was all about Bo & Carly, I never could ship Bo & Billie, and only came to tolerate Bo & Hope under Higley. Steve & Kayla I have no history with other than seeing MBE’s stints as Stephanie’s mother and the random cameos she would pop up for. Justin and Adrienne are really the only couple I’m happy are getting material and that is because of the work Higley and Tomsell have done with them.

        Despite this, I have feeling I’m going to enjoy most of HIgley/Griffith while everyone else will start complaining by Christmas.

      • mykleraus Says:

        I have no problem with the supercouples being together, IF it doesn’t strangle story potential. John and Marlena are being used pretty appropriately right now, and if they’re going to be supporting characters, great — have them together and happy, because the characters have earned it. But we can’t have an entire show full of 50-something characters who are chained together. That’s how you wind up with The Summer of Colleen’s Letters.

  4. marypickford Says:

    I think Higley/Griffith saw a need for more 30-40something women. I was expecting Chloe back for just this reason. I think Belle and Shawn will be split up too (I hope so!). Ava was a Higley creation, and she did win an Emmy.

    They’ve tried repeatedly to bring on another female character in that age range, most recently with Serena. I think Ava will come back as a villain, with the option of being softened enough for a love story down the line.

    She and Nicole became friends during her run, too. They were fun together.

    • mykleraus Says:

      Agreed on all counts. It’s actually alarming how often they’ve tried to fill the role of a 3rd or 4th woman in that age range and failed: Arianna, Taylor, Carrie, Madison, Jordan, and Serena, off the top of my head. It was Sami, Nicole, and Chloe for a while, and then Chloe left and it got really dire. For some reason, this has proven to be an impossible niche to fill. Belle makes the most sense as an established character to plug in, but I get why they’d look to Ava — especially since they clearly like Braun.


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