And yes, that “K” is a hint…
Posted tagged ‘Behind the Scenes’
In January 1982, when Joseph Mascolo arrived in Salem as crime boss Stefano DiMera, no one could have predicted the hell the man would raise, the chaos he would cause, the deaths he would fake, and the excitement he would bring viewers for years to come. Today, over 35 years later, we all say goodbye to Joe and to Stefano for the final time.
Stefano was apprehended long enough to have his DNA and fingerprints taken — presumably exonerating Hope for his “murder” — and to allow three of his enemies (more on that in a sec) to confront him. And then, because Salemites have never learned the lesson that gloating just makes things blow up in your face, they discovered his cell empty, the Phoenix having apparently slipped out of their clutches one more time.
I read that the set photos of Mascolo were marked April 2016, while the ones from the others visiting him in prison were from August 2016. This implies that they filmed Stefano’s footage back around the time they shot the Orpheus, Clyde, and Xander material in jail (all of which aired last fall), and then shot the other characters’ sides of these scenes later on. You could tell in the editing today, because he was never in the same shot as anyone else, and I wondered a few times if they were reusing shots as he reacted silently to Anna, Marlena, and Rafe. I’m thrilled that we had the opportunity not only to wrap up Stefano’s story onscreen — as much as you can wrap up the tale of such a larger-than-life character — and to see him once more. But it was also tough to watch him in these scenes. I don’t know if the decision to keep Stefano silent was because they banked footage before they knew what the story was going to be, and they wanted to be able to fit his appearance into whatever wound up playing out, but it’s tough not to think that Joe’s Alzheimer’s also played a big role in that. I felt worried that he wasn’t able to speak by this point (or at least to recite dialogue), and at times, there was a distant look in his eyes. Yet at others, he laughed, he smirked, he expressed irritation, and he even teared up.
I don’t know if that tear was supposed to be Stefano reacting to his apparent defeat or Joe’s own emotion coming through, but it broke me a little. How classy of him to shoot footage beyond when it was easy or comfortable for him, and how decent of the show to accommodate him in this way. Yeah, in a perfect world, Stefano would’ve been a greater onscreen presence through this final arc, and his last showdowns with his enemies would have been the verbal chess matches we knew he relished, but the show worked within the limitations it had, and I find it hard to complain about that.
Marlena’s final “Checkmate” to him, as she set down the queen, was pretty damn perfect. I cannot figure out the decision-making process behind doing that mid-episode and then having Stefano’s final onscreen encounter be with Rafe Hernandez, of all people, especially when you had Deidre Hall’s Marlena right there. Ridiculous. I would’ve been fine if they’d devoted a major chunk of the episode to flashbacks as the folks gathered in Prague recalled everything Stefano has pulled on them over the years; they could’ve even cut to Andre in Salem, talking with Kate, and Chad locked up, recounting stories to Gabi. As it was, the tone of the episode was all over the place, with more of the Nicole/Chloe baby histrionics going on, and of course Deimos stinking up the joint.
This entire Prague thing has been all over the place, though. It seems like they sent a group of characters off on an “adventure” and then had to figure out exactly what would be going on during said adventure. Anna, Carrie, and Austin popping up — fun as it’s been — was supremely weird, and otherwise, this has been a lot of people chit-chatting in the hotel lobby and the one outdoor cafe in all of Prague. And then there was that masquerade ball.
Hey, at least it didn’t happen offscreen, and they did manage to dedicate a set and extras to it, even if that set was a redressed St. Luke’s/Kristen’s Italian villa from 2015. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what in the world the plan was — lure Stefano out of hiding by using Marlena as bait and then hope he didn’t question why she was there or recognize Steve, Kayla, or Rafe just standing around? — or why they had to spend an entire episode standing in side-by-side pairs, yammering into their mics in the absolute most conspicuous manner possible. Nor will we ever know why it was so difficult to procure tickets for this “gala” consisting of a dozen middle-aged extras moving woozily around a living room. There were a lot of opportunities to dig deeper with the writing, to craft something suspenseful and complex even without Stefano present for most of it, but what we got was a strange mix of tepid intrigue and comic relief.
Still, though, they did try, we got a very Stefano ending, and the show had the respect to include this at the end of the hour:
Thank you for the memories, Joe, and may we always imagine that the Phoenix is out there somewhere, ready to strike again when the quiet life grows tiresome to him.
NBC has posted a tribute video to the late Joseph Mascolo (Stefano) featuring commentary by other Days cast members. Strangely, it isn’t embeddable, but you can view it here.
It’s sort of interesting to see who’s included and who isn’t — no Deidre? no Drake? — but I wouldn’t be surprised if this were one of those last-minute things that was dependent on who happened to be on set that day. At any rate, I wish it were 90 minutes instead of 90 seconds, but it’s still lovely to see what affection and respect Joe’s coworkers had for him.
This one’s coming up soon, so definitely don’t click if you don’t want to be spoiled…
Breaking news! Dena Higley is out — though her Co-Head Writer, Ryan Quan, remains in a Creative Consultant post — and former One Life to Live/General Hospital Head Writer, Ron Carlivati, is coming to Days!
The show has replaced Co-Head Writer Dena Higley with Emmy-winning scribe Ron Carlivati, who toiled at both GENERAL HOSPITAL and ONE LIFE TO LIVE, effective immediately. His title will be Head Writer. Higley’s Co-Head Writer, Ryan Quan, will remain with the new title of Creative Consultant. Daytime Emmy-winner Sheri Anderson Thomas, who has served on DAYS’s writing team in various capacities, including head writer and co-head writer in the ’80s and ’90s, will also hold the Creative Consultant title.
I’m actually way less shocked by this than I maybe should be. Carlivati has been a free agent for a while, and his brand of heightened storyline has been talked about a lot online as a possible fit for Days. And former Head Writer Sheri Anderson, who has long, long been buzzed about as being the needed fix for what ails the show, will be consulting!
I definitely agree that Salem could use a shot in the arm. As I’ve said recently, I like a lot of what Higley and Quan have set up, but I don’t necessarily think it’s playing out with as much energy as it needs to have. Carlivati’s initial time as HW of OLTL was very, very strong, with interweaving, character-driven storylines, and he brought a lot of that to GH at first, though that show seemed to get away from him for whatever reason. At any rate, I’m excited (interested?) to see what the hell happens next.
One thing Carlivati did at both those shows was establish a gay presence, so I would not be surprised to see Sonny/Paul become more prominent, or to see Will’s murder reversed. He also definitely loves vets and history — though sometimes applies established canon, er, liberally — so we should be up for some unexpected stuff in the coming months, or at least when his material begins airing in the 22nd century.
Of course, the real question is: when do we get our next The Plan to Save Days interview?!
Thought this might be of interest to some of y’all…
According to Serial Scoop, there was a casting call out last spring for a “Dr. Caleb Cooper” last spring/summer:
The character was a described as a “Good-looking loner. He lives on a self-sustaining farm in middle America, completely off the grid.… He finds peace and joy in nature. He keeps his past as a doctor secret, hiding the truth about a traumatic tragedy from his past.”
DAYS was looking for a strong, established actor between the ages of 44-55 to fill the role.
Actor Michael Lowry, who did stints on All My Children and One Life to Live in the past, posted a video of an audition he did for the role:
Serial Scoop adds that the role has “been scrapped,” which, of course it has, since Eric has clearly taken on the “Caleb” role — which was supposed to be involved with Hope — in this story. If I had to guess, Caleb was initially going to look like a love interest for Hope, but then he’d become obsessed with her and wind up as a crazed obstacle for Hope/Rafe, because this is Days and that’s how things go.
During NBC’s presentation to the Television Critics Association this past week, some of the honchos had things to say about the pending renewal for Days. From Deadline Hollywood:
“We haven’t made decisions, but we like that show,” NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt told Deadline at TCA. “I think we will know more in couple of months. As they age, these shows diminish, there is a lot of delayed viewing and very little linear viewing anymore, you have to keep looking at that.”
Added NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, “We hope that the show comes back.”
This leaves me cautiously optimistic about the show getting another renewal. We’re really coming down to the wire here, but these comments sound a little bit like a “Get your shit together” threat. I still don’t think they’re confident in the ability of any talk show — including and especially Megyn Kelly, whose “popularity” feels very tied to the now-finished election cycle — to carry that hour any more effectively than Days has done in recent years, but it also can’t keep sliding for the rest of eternity.