‘Sonny’ Skies or Clouds on the Horizon? The New Normal Comes to Salem

Who could resist this face?

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Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) proposes to a headless Will Horton (Guy Wilson) on the NBC drama Days of our Lives.

Evidently, the new incarnation of Will Horton on Days of our Lives; that’s who.

Will said “no” to Sonny — actually, he first said “Wow!” — and then explained himself and the couple ended up in the sack anyway at the end of a rather sweet scene that had a few subtle comedy bits thrown in for good measure.

The most interesting thing about this scene to me was the fact that a network television show actually showed a man proposing marriage to another man. A first for daytime; a first since the DOMA and Windsor decisions last summer; and a first not to make a distinction between same-sex and opposite sex couples. It’s a powerful step in the right direction and I have to applaud DAYS for it.

Anyone who follows this blog knows that I was no fan of how Will ended up becoming a father, but the soapy aftermath — including Freddie Smith’s bravura comedic performances delivering the baby and his beautiful monologues at Will’s bedside after he was shot — has cemented my love for this couple.

I desperately want DAYS to keep them together because they can be significant role models for gay youth; a powerful arrow in the quiver of hope for young people who believe they cannot find a solid relationship. I really don’t care if they make them a crime-fighting duo (might be fun) or have Sonny and Will take over the sketchy Kiriakis empire from Uncle Vic and do battle with a new generation of DiMeras or maybe Sonny, Will and T could roll the Brady pub into a burgeoning Salem nightspot conglomerate. Whatever. But I would like them to do it together and not fall into the old, old soap opera trope that finds only old people happy together.

When Will and Sonny began seeing each other, Sonny’s mother, Adrienne, sort of “poked the bear” in the guise of Will’s father, Lucas, telling him that the way the world was changing, who knows, they could end up as in-laws. Evidently, a lot has happened since then because Salem, according to Sonny’s proposal, is now in an Equality State. That made me laugh, I have to admit, but it’s also another gold star in DAYS’s column. Historically, soaps have been far, far behind the curve of social change — let us not forget that the very first same-sex male kiss in daytime was Luke and Noah on As The World Turns in 2007!! — so it’s nice to see a daytime serial in touch with the zeitgeist.

Read all about the episode in the fantastic (as always) blow-by-blow liveblog courtesy of “snicks” on The Backlot: Liveblogging “Days Of Our Lives” A Decent Proposal – thebacklot.com.

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Three episodes in and Guy Wilson has already been proposed to! Must be something in the water in Salem — and I don’t mean Nick Fallon!

The New Guy
I’m kinda tired of the nonsense in the comments on articles about Guy Wilson and whether or not he’s going to be as effective in assaying the character of Will Horton as two-time Emmy winner Chandler Massey.

Soap fans can be just downright nasty sometimes, forgetting that recasting is a part of life for a continuing drama. It was assumed, once upon a time, that nearly every role would be recast at some point. When there were two dozen soaps on the networks, it was always an interesting day when the announcer would say, “The role of Nola Reardon will be played today by….” It was like having a substitute teacher. The actor could be sick, but the story never stopped.

And pre-Internet spoilers when you didn’t know everything in advance, “The role of Nola Reardon will be played today by” was how you knew that it was a temporary recast. But when Dan Region intoned, “The role of Tom Hughes will now be played by”  that meant a new contract player.

What I’m saying is, suck it up, folks. Recasts happen. Guy might be the best thing that’s ever happened to this character. You don’t know. Or, he could just suck. You don’t know that either. Just give him a chance to settle into the role. Ultimately, the character is more important than the actor in the broad scheme of continuing drama.

You should just be happy that DAYS decided that the character and the couple were important enough to the landscape to invest in a new actor.

Saying Goodbye to the First WilSon Incarnation with a Bit of Snark

(Jan. 7, 2014) — Chandler Massey walked along a fake riverbank with Freddie Smith a few months ago and then was “handed his cards,” as they used to say in vaudeville, before being shown the door at the venerable NBC soap Days of our Lives.

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Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith, right) will have to start rubbing noses with a different Will Horton when Guy Wilson takes over the plum role from Chandler Massey (left).

Tomorrow, the angsty blonde half of DAYS’ preeminent (and only) same-sex couple will come back from their journey to that fake riverbank looking a bit different than when he left. That’s because Guy Wilson debuts in the role that won Massey two consecutive Daytime Emmy Awards: Will Horton.

It could be a painful transition, except that, thanks to The Backlot’s pop culture maven, known only as “snicks,” we have “Will & Sonny: A Love Story in Pictures, Part Two” to bring Wilson up to speed on WilSon. Make sure to click on Part I and Will’s California Adventure, too.

This is just about the best way to watch, I think!

From Male-on-Male Rape to Lunatics in Flooded Pubs: Why U.K. Soaps Leave the U.S. in the Dust

John Paul McQueen is about to be raped. That’s the bad news. The good news is that John Paul McQueen is a fictional person and no such real horror will be visited upon the actor who assays the character, James Sutton. But, the fact that he’s about to be raped by another man on television and that the aftereffects will be played out in a long-running storyline, well, that’s something we don’t see everyday. In the United States, that is.

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Schoolteacher John Paul McQueen (James Sutton) on the U.K. soap Hollyoaks. The deep repercussions of the rape of the popular character will be felt for sometime throughout the fictional Chester village. |Image: Lime Pictures.

Soaps in the U.K. have been significantly more LGBT-inclusive than those in the U.S. I’ve written about a few of my favorites before and John Paul, specifically, here.

James Sutton portrayed John Paul during two stints (2006-8 and 2012-present) which have seen him transition from gay teen to father, schoolteacher and generally upstanding member of the community. The show has never shirked away from hard-hitting explorations of important issues, but one of their boldest may be the upcoming rape of John Paul by one of his students.

As one of the counselors that have been integral to story development notes, this is not about straight men and gay men; it’s about power. I’ve always been one to praise continuing dramas on this side of the pond for tackling big issues, but we’ve never been bold enough to go this far. And that’s a pity.

Here’s a terrific piece about the storyline.

Killer Cameron – The Dales’ Crazed Guy Next Door

At this year’s Inside Soap Awards in London, Dominic Power walked away with the statue for “Best Villain.” I’m not sure there was ever any competition.

I’ve been watching continuing dramas for a long, long time and I am pretty certain that I’ve never seen a portrayal as chilling as Power’s of guy-gone-unhinged Cameron Murray in the exceptional ITV soap Emmerdale.

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Dominic Power as Cameron Murray, Debbie Dingle’s seemingly mild mannered mechanic/truck driver boyfriend from Jersey who turned the Yorkshire village of Emmerdale on its head.

And I think that the fact that he didn’t look like a serial killer — none of the classic tropes showed up — that audiences were stunned a year ago when he killed village baddie Carl King (and let then-girlfriend Chas take the rap). Surely his comeuppance would be quick and justice swift. Not so. He killed hapless farmer Alex Moss and, just when it looked like he was going to be exposed by Chas’ half-sister, Genny Walker, he offed Genny as well.

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During the Woolpack seige in October 2013, the hashtag #KillerCameron was trending worldwide, so popular was this storyline featuring Dominic Power as unhinged serial killer Cameron Murray. |Image: ITV

Eventually he got sent down, but escaped from a prison van and armed with old Zac Dingle’s shotgun, took a dozen people hostage in the village pub, the Woolpack, during a near-Biblical flood.

This was gripping, nail-biting television, folks. Part action movie, part horror movie, part exceptional drama, there wasn’t a second of this story that wasn’t among the best of the best of dramatic television broadcasting.

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Cameron Murray (Dominic Power) and Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) in the flooded Woolpack basement just before she gets away and he inadvertently offs himself at the end of the epic “seige week” on the ITV powerhouse Emmerdale. |Image: ITV

And when Cameron finally met his ignominious end — by electrocuting himself with a live light fixture in the flooded pub basement — you realized that nearly every storyline on the canvas was cinched together and drawn taught. A breathtaking thing. Even more breathtaking, I think, than building a replica of the Woolpack basement at the underwater stage at Pinewood Studios and filming the scenes like a major motion picture.

Give ITV props: they don’t skimp on production values. And it shows.

Dominic Power on the end of the Cameron Murray Era

Said Tony Stewart in the Daily Mirror after the Inside Soap Awards:

But the Yorkshire soap should have had more gongs. For their part in the Best Storyline of Cameron’s killer cover-up, either Charley Webb (Debbie Dingle) or Lucy Pargeter (Chas Spencer) should have walked away with the Best Actress accolade, even if Jacqueline Jossa as Lauren Branning has been one of the saving graces of the blighted EastEnders.

Both Charley and Lucy have been consistently magnificent as the lovers of serial killer Cameron Murray – with Dominic Power rightly celebrated as the Best Bad Boy, if only for his body count of three. Or four if we count his own electrocution in a cellar full of water last week. What a way to go!

Stewart did note that Emmerdale did win Best Soap. Like Murray, was there ever reason to doubt?

Now, if we can ever get some real gutsy storylines for Will and Sonny. After all, shouldn’t we be dealing with the effects of Nick Fallon’s prison rape by now? Days of our Lives’ writers might want to tune into Hollyoaks to get some story ideas. Just sayin.’

The 50 Greatest Gay TV Characters

The 50 Greatest Gay TV Characters.

Courtesy of The Backlot. I did participate in this poll and I’m pleased to see that a few of my recommendations made it in.

I’m particularly pleased about the page linked above, featuring #s 9, 8 and 7 — the delicious fantasy soap opera trio of Sonny Kiriakis, Will Horton and Luke Snyder! Just think about it for a minute!

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Freddie Smith as Sonny Kiriakis

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Van Hansis as Luke Snyder

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Chandler Massey as Will Horton

I also appreciated the inclusion of Justin Bartha’s David Sawyer (The New Normal) at #35, the exceptional Luke McFarlane as the equally exceptional Scotty Wandell (Brothers and Sisters) and two of my favorites from across the pond: #23 Kieron Richardson’s Ste Hay and #12 Emmett J. Scanlan’s Brendan Brady from the UK sudser Hollyoaks.

With few exceptions — #s 1 and 2 while deserving of inclusion, don’t deserve the top spots — I think this is a great list. At least there’s SOME representation out there. We can always use more, but at least it’s not the desert it was in the olden days!

Liveblogging “Days Of Our Lives:” Home Sweet Hell

Liveblogging “Days Of Our Lives:” Home Sweet Hell – thebacklot.com.

Are ya reading the liveblogs of Days on The Backlot? You should be. It’s terrifically snarky and actually way better than watching the whole damn episode. And, I mean, really, we’re all only over there for Will and Sonny anyway, so… Anyhow, highly recommended, though you get less of that adorable Freddie Smith this way.

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The aforementioned adorable Freddie Smith, who portrays good guy gay Sonny Kiriakis on Days of our Lives. Smith was nominated for a Daytime Emmy earlier this year.

What Soap Operas Can Teach Newspapers About Survival

Like soap operas, the newspaper industry has been slow to innovate and adapt to the digital age. Instead of embracing new ways to tell stories, and new platforms to tell them on, soap operas — like newspapers — resisted. That is, until now. This week Bloomberg TV interviewed veteran soap actress Deidre Hall and co-executive producer Greg Meng from the daytime serial Days of Our Lives, which has seen a four percent resurgence in ratings since the show revamped itself in 2011 (and it’s not even the most popular afternoon soap on air). The Bloomberg segment reveals several interesting points that I believe are applicable to the news industry in its report, ”You thought soap operas were dead…. They’re Not.” The same holds true for newspapers.

via What Soap Operas Can Teach Newspapers About Survival | allDigitocracy.

A good piece. The Bloomberg segment (linked in the cut above) is good, but it would have been better if the empty-headed anchors knew a scintilla about what they were talking about. Well, not like we’ve never seen THAT before!

Will and Sonny Scare the Mormons

Days of our Lives - Season 46

Days of our Lives’ ongoing front-burner gay storyline featuring Will and Sonny (Chandler Massey and Freddie Smith, far right couple) is the reason that some have alleged that KSL-TV in Utah has moved the program to an overnight timeslot.

from Huffington Post Gay Voices

“Days Of Our Lives” fans in the Salt Lake City area won’t be able to watch their daytime soap during the day anymore. KSL, NBC’s Salt Lake City affiliate, has announced it will move the long-running soap from 2 p.m. to 1:05 a.m.

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, KSL won’t say why it’s moved “Days” to late night — or why it airs “Dr. Phil” twice — but it could be because of the show’s ongoing gay storyline.

KSL is owned by the Mormon Church. In the past, they’ve refused to air many network shows.

Will and Sonny: A Love Story In Pictures (with Funny Captions)

Will & Sonny: A Love Story In Pictures – thebacklot.com.

You just have to click around on this if you are a WilSon fan. Not only is it well put together, but the snark is off-the-charts — and dead on it to boot. I’ve certainly said several of these things or thought several of these thoughts!

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“I understand now, Will, and I accept the fact that … it’s not about me. Oh, and that you’re gay. That, too. But mostly the me thing.”
— “Sami,” on The Backlot’s slide deck featuring images and hilarious commentary on the WilSon storyline on “Days of our Lives.” Chandler Massey, the two-time Emmy winner, was dismissed on Aug. 23.

Recent DAYS news and other posts

DAYS Shocker — Massey Abruptly Fired from Top Role in Drama

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Chandler Massey as Will Horton. The two-time Emmy winner was let go last week.

Well, this is interesting. Not good interesting, but interesting nonetheless. This is why I hate the networks….

Two-time Emmy winner Chandler Massey filmed his final scenes as Days of Our Lives’ gay heartthrob Will Horton on Friday, Aug. 23 — only he didn’t know they were his last until he was summoned at the end of his work day to the office of Greg Meng, the soap’s co-executive producer. During this meeting, Meng informed Massey, who had been planning to depart the NBC soap when his contract expired in December, that he would have to leave immediately because a replacement had already been hired. Massey exited the studio sans fanfare — no farewell party, no goodbyes, no nothing — and sources close to the young actor say he was devastated and in tears. His last episode will air on or around Dec. 31. Days has yet to announce the name of Massey’s replacement, who won’t begin work until after the soap returns from a two-week production hiatus in September.

via TV Guide

Recent Post: Massey Leaves Iconic Role as Will Horton

Massey Leaves Iconic Gay Role as Will Horton

Outlets covering gay entertainment news and those covering soap operas had plenty to write about Fri., Aug. 23, when, in a surprise move, two-time Emmy winner Chandler Massey announced that he had filmed his last scenes as Will Horton on the venerable NBC sudser Days of our Lives.

The story of Will Horton (Emmy winner Chandler Massey, left) discovering himself and his love story with Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) has been achingly slow, but powerful performances by the duo have overshadowed the typically tepid plotting.

AFTERGLOW. Sonny Kiriakis (Emmy nominee Freddie Smith, right) will find a strange new bedfellow in the new year when an as yet unannounced new actor takes over the role of partner Will Horton (double Emmy winner Chandler Massey, left) on the NBC daytime drama Days of Our Lives.

The 22-year-old Massey had announced his intentions to leave the role earlier this year when he won his second consecutive Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor. He has said that he intends to finish college, which was interrupted during his freshman year when he won the role of Will Horton on DOOL.

“I’m done. It’s bittersweet, Massey is quoted as saying on The Backlot. “These four years have been so amazing I’ve built a family here. I’m so grateful to NBC and everyone for these amazing four years. It’s been my privilege and honor to work there.”

Massey was let out of his contract several months early for a variety or reasons. While originally saying that they would not recast the role, producers have now indicated that storylines have dictated a recast.

While many current fans of the show have taken to social media decrying the decision to recast, Massey — the fifth actor to play the role — has been vocal in his support of a recast for some time.

“I think it’s a good move [to recast],” Massey said in The Backlot piece. “I’m biased because I fell in love with Will and Sonny and I want Will and Sonny to be together.”

I agree with him. I fell in love with them, too. But, recasts have always been a part of the life of a continuing drama. After all, excluding babies, 12 actors assayed the part of Tom Hughes on As The World Turns from 1960 until Scott Holmes became “lucky 13” in 1987, staying with the role until the series ended in 2010. There’s hardly a role on a soap that has not been played by another actor at one time or another.

There’s no doubt about it: I will miss Massey, but I do believe that it’s more important that DOOL continue to tell this story and I hope a recast indicates that they tend to do just that.

There are plenty of young people, struggling with their sexuality that need to see other young gay people in a committed relationship to show them that it can be done — insane gunmen, unintended pregnancies, annoying and sometime borderline psychotic parents, drug dealing cousins, perjury, hot architects and Stefano DiMera aside — and that you can come home each night to the loving embrace of Sonny Kiriakis and his fabulous hair.

Thanks, Mr. Massey, for sharing your gifts with us. Your impact on the landscape has been indelible.

Because of DAYS’ shooting schedule, Massey will likely be seen as Will through December.

Other Recent Posts:
More Sands Through the Gay Hourglass — Revisiting and Revising
Like Sands Through the Gay Hourglass: Ticked Off at American Dramas. Again.
Charm of DAYS’ Gay Supercouple “Cannot be Denied”
Chandler Massey Takes Home Second Emmy
Daytime Emmy Q and A: Freddie Smith