GM: Obviously a lot of fans are really upset over the recent cast changes, such as Drake Hogestyn (John), Deidre Hall (Marlena), and the others. What’s your reaction to the drastic cast cuts this year?
JS: My reaction was, I thought it was a great shame, particularly in the way which they left. We are getting 40 percent less on our licensing fee this year. What I can tell you that at NBC here, they’re desperately trying to keep this show on the air. The speed at which we’re moving in production is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The way this whole ship moves now, is just one that cannot bear any excess weight. And the reality is, they’ve left the show, and on the day that they left, the audience didn’t go up. And a couple of weeks after, the audience didn’t go down. So what does that tell you? I mean that’s just a fact. We didn’t get any change in our ratings. They were symbols of the show, absolutely!
With Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans (Steve and Kayla), the same thing probably applies. Not to take all the heart out of it, but you’re talking about numbers and audience, and market share. There is no margin at all, nothing. There is no extra money for anything. The show is not going to make any money at all, zero dollars, and maybe we’ll lose money. This is most likely the death of the industry over the next, maybe two to seven years. And the reality of that, is that it has not managed to keep up with...I mean this show has been on for 40 years. You’re looking at format that we developed in the '80s, it hasn’t changed for the times. It can’t compete anymore.
People have too many other choices, and this is not one they want to go to. It’s just a reality. I mean, this show used to get 9.7. Now it gets 1.9. Why? Because they’re not at home, there’s more channels. I have a television at home, and I can watch anything instantly whenever I want to, and there’s no commercials, and in the middle of the afternoon I can watch the same thing that I watch in the middle of the night. The whole industry has changed. NBC is getting out of daytime television. With the contract we have right now, we’ll have maybe an extra year, two and a half years from March, and then who knows? Will we get an extra year or two? We might. That’s just the truth, I mean that’s just the facts. My point is that we can’t afford to pay people the kind of salaries that have been on the show for thirty years, just can’t afford it.
GM: So how long are you going to be sticking around? Can you give us any insight on that?
JS: You know, I can actually. You can be the first person from the press that I’ve told. I’ve just signed a couple days ago a contract that extends for two years.
GM: Well that is wonderful news. That will make a lot of fans happy. Moving on to this other event I see that you’ll be attending the Days Charity Event on April 18 in Hartford. You’ve attended that one before?
JS: I always did. It’s a very worthwhile event. I can tell you that I work harder at that event than anything else I do. It is completely, totally, and utterly exhausting. But, it is always an incredibly worthwhile event. I love the organizers. It is in a great location every year, and I just think that it is something that is really worthwhile.
GM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
JS: I don’t know. I have no idea. It’s a question you can never answer. I can guarantee you’re going to be wrong. If you asked me five years ago where I was going to be in five years, I certainly would’ve never said this. The reality is, okay I’m here at DAYS for two more years. Now, I just told you that I think this show is going to maybe last for two more years, but where do you go from there? Soap operas are going to be a distant memory in ten years, and it makes sense to look for something else when you can because it’s better to get off the ship before it sinks than to try and swim along with everybody else. So, I don’t mean to be brutally honest but that’s just the reality. I don’t want to be one of two hundred soap opera actors who are trying to get a job. There are a number of places you can go. You can go to nighttime television, or you can go into films or a number of different things. I had the same kind of conversation with my fiancé for about an hour. We’re buying a house, that’s why. ‘What are we going to do in two years?’ How long I might not be working for if I leave this show?’ It’s a very kind of tough thing to answer.
GM: If you had the opportunity to play another role in a movie, what would be your preference? Action/adventure, romantic comedy, drama, science fiction?
JS: You know, I really don’t know. I think I would like to go and play something that is very, very different from me. I would really like to develop a character. That would be the smartest choice for me career wise, because somebody looks at me and goes, ‘Soap opera, you’re cute. Okay, Can you act? Well, we’ll see.’ And then you show them something completely different, they really pay attention to you. If you can show them that there’s something utterly, utterly different. So I would want to work on the role of being a character actor, not that I see myself as a character actor necessarily. But I would like to do something that is as ugly, and as different, the antithesis of tall, dark, and handsome, charming in English - the absolute opposite.
GM: Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans? What can they look forward to on DAYS?
JS: You know it’s funny. I’ve been playing E.J. for nearly three years and I feel I’m just beginning to get to know him. So I think what they can look forward to, is I feel that my work is getting stronger and stronger and it’s supported by stronger and stronger writing. So, there’s some really good stuff coming in the next month or so, and I’m telling you when this all hits the fan, it’s going to be fun to watch. And as always my words to the fans are ‘thank you.’ As enthusiastic about it as these people are about my character on the show really touches me. And I think I’m very privileged to have people who are always supportive of my work.