‘Days of Our Lives’ Boss Talks 2-Season Renewal, Victoria Konefal’s Return as Ciara

Days of our Lives - Season 55
Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Days of Our Lives renewal announcements usually happen in the winter months, and the latest was overdue — but well worth the wait. The NBC soap opera has been picked up for two years (not the usual one), which has made both fans and the folks who work on the series very happy!

TV Insider chatted with executive producer Ken Corday about the show’s pickup and what he feels makes Days unique. Also, Corday dishes some story points and previews the return of legacy character Ciara Brady (Victoria Konefal), who will be back on-screen later this year.

Congratulations on Seasons 57 and 58! How did it work out that Days received a two-year renewal this time around?

Ken Corday: It was actually 2014 when we last had this kind of commitment. [Laughs] I got on my knees and begged: “Help us stop looking over our shoulders every year!” I spoke to Mark Lazarus [Chairman, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming] back in November. He was wonderful and very understanding and asked for my patience, and my prayers were answered.

In October of last year, I will say we were at a point where I didn’t know whether or not I should tell Ron [Carlivati, head writer] to write the ending of Days. He just kept writing without a safety net. Ultimately, I had faith in the show.

Ken Corday (Chris Haston/NBC)

What was the reaction among cast members and the production team?

It’s interesting because this was the first time in 14 months that we’d all been that close with each other on stage. It was the first time NBC executives had come down the hill to the Burbank Studios. We all wanted to hug each other. The joy was palpable.

How important is it to have so many long-running cast members, as you do? Are they the key to the show’s success and longevity?

It’s vastly important. It’s very important for the viewers who have watched us for decades. The next generation of viewers are put in front of their screens as they watch with their grandmothers and mothers. They see the children and grandchildren of the veteran characters. It all starts with the senior members of our cast±Susan Seaforth Hayes [Julie] and Bill Hayes [Doug].

It’s amazing how a character can be off the canvas for years and then be brought back and the story picks right up. Case in point: Jan Spears, played by Heather Lindell.

Yes. Characters go off and come back to revisit the “scene of the crime.” Heather is back as Jan playing scenes with Belle [Martha Madison] and Shawn [Brandon Beemer]. She’s wonderful and she knows the part. It’s great seeing people come back who haven’t been on in years. I only wish we could still have the ones who have passed on: Joe [Mascolo, ex-Stefano], Frances [Reid, ex-Alice], and Mac [Macdonald Carey, ex-Tom]. Those are voids that will never be filled.

Speaking of returns, Ali Sweeney is back as Sami, and this time it’s not for an “in and out” visit.

Yes. Alison is so wonderful. It’s great that she’s able to, I think the word is triangulate her world with her family, her work at Hallmark, which includes projects in Canada, and Days. We all love Sami and it’s great to see Sami screw up, dig her own grave, and then jump out of it. Seeing her again with Bryan Dattilo [Lucas] is so marvelous. There’s that comfortable rhythm they have that their characters have as well.

Days appears to be redeeming antagonist Ava (Tamara Braun) somewhat, thanks to her developing relationship with Rafe (Galen Gering).

Yes. I think it was Joe Mascolo who gave the lesson that “no villain is great unless they have some level of empathy from the viewers.” I don’t think Stefano was every fully redeemed, but look at Ava or Paul Telfer’s Xander. We’ve seen them grow and change on the show as people do in reality. The certainty in life is change.

Paul went from villain to romantic lead.

Yes, he was brought on as [a bad guy]. He’s a wonderful actor and can take anything and make it work. Paul’s a great Scotsman and we’ve been finding that heart in Xander. Wait till you see him with his haircut.

Jackée Harry as Paulina has added a lot of energy to the show. She delivers a line like no one else.

I love her. She’s one of a kind; we’re blessed to have her. She brings a style and a tone we haven’t had…Paulina has this openness. She’s bawdy and she doesn’t care what people think.

Victoria Konefal as Ciara Brady (Chris Haston/NBC)

Ciara (Victoria Konefal) left town recently with amnesia. It’s been announced she’s returning later this year. But as we’re seeing, her true love Ben (Robert Scott Wilson) is moving on, perhaps with Claire (Isabel Durant). Clearly, Ciara won’t return to the same Salem she left.

The most precious thing in life is time and the most certain thing is change. People do change and your point is well taken. When Miss Konefal returns to Salem, whenever that day comes, it won’t be to the same Salem she left. However, Ben and Ciara are star-crossed lovers—we won’t ever forget that Ben and Ciara are special.

Days of Our Lives, Weekdays, NBC