After a year of silence inside LIS studios, news has finally broken that 'Life in Salem' will be making it's return to mySON TV at long last; Co-EP/Co-HW ML Cooks broke the news last week. Now, it's time to get an indepth look at what is going on at LIS. Where has it been? What's been going on, what will go on? When is it coming back? Any changes? A lot of questions must be on reader's minds; they probably thought it for dead, like many other past SON blogs. Well, 'Life' doesn't die that quickly; readers will have a lot more LIS coming their way. It is back and ready to roll.
However, before LIS can return, explanation is needed. On the past, present, and future.
"Readers of LIS may remember that in Fall of 09, ML Cooks made a return to Life in Salem and took the main pen, while I took the main control of his own, original soap "S.T.E.A.M". That fall was a big time for those shows, but suddenly, both began to stop posting episodes. Why? Well, a variety of reasons," explains LIS creator, EP, and HW, Tara Smith. "I fell ill that fall; I had a lot of health problems with a rupptured appendix that had to be taken care of. So I fell off the map first; ML tried to keep the ships afloat, but his own real life began to get in the way. Our lives prevented us from penning these soaps, and S.T.E.A.M's last episode aired in November of 09; LIS' last aired on New Years Eve of 09. Another problem was that the blogs on SON were shut down for months. The most recent episode of LIS had to be posted in the mySON TV board, and that was in Febuary of last year. So things have been quiet because all of this just crashed together and the blogs fell to the wayside."
However, not any more; S.T.E.A.M is already hitting the SONOP airwaves once again, and LIS' return is fast approaching. But is anything going to be different about LIS?
"LIS will be very different," answers Smith. "When LIS went on its long hiatus, it was already in a transition, if readers remember. However, it's about to get real different; it's almost going to be a new show. It will be great, though; ML has cooked(no pun intended) up some big plots. They are the likes of which Salem has never seen before. Changes can be scary for any show, and sometimes, they aren't for the best. LIS needed them, though; I was losing control of it when I was on my own, and ML came in and made some big decisions. He's majorly overhauled the show; there weren't that many changes when he came on the first time. Now, it's going to be insane. A lot of the cast has been trimmed. Current stories are in the process of ending, and new ones will begin."
Smith was not hesitant to give the details of the changes 'Life in Salem' was making, either.
"It's not just a change in story. The format is changing up, as well, as readers may have seen during the Fall of 09; LIS used to be a daily soap. Well, those days are long gone. It's now going to be airing only twice a week," Tara explained. Does that mean less LIS? Maybe not. "It may not air as many times, but the episodes are different, too; most of my episodes for LIS used to be written in a more prose style. They were very simple and to the point; long-time LIS readers also know how ML writes, in a more script form. Well, once again, I have adopted that form. That will be the way this show will be presented from here on out, but it's a good thing; the prose was always good for LIS, but in these scripts, you know exactly what the characters are saying. This gives you a chance to dig deep into these scenes and see the emotional aspect of it, while keeping the action that you already had in the prose. Basically, these episodes will pack much more of a punch than previous ones did; if you read ML's older script eps of LIS or S.T.E.A.M, or even the ones that I would write in script, you'll have an idea as to what I mean."
Overall, this is a lot of info for readers to take in; changes are running every where on LIS.
"Right now, we have about ten episodes or so already written; that's well over a month of story, and we keep going. We really want to stay ahead, because in the past, LIS has found itself a little chaotic because episodes were written so shortly before they should've been posted to the public. We are going to keep writing and try to keep ourselves in check; right now, most of the episodes are being written by me, with some scenes from ML thrown in. In due time, we will see episodes from ML return, but he is also heading up S.T.E.A.M. However, ML has written most of the outlines; right now, we are very far ahead in that area. We have outlines written almost all the way up to 500; that's a lot. I can honestly tell you that Life in Salem has never been that ahead before; it is a good feeling to know so clearly where we are going with story," the exec continued. "So LIS has not just changed on a story and cast level; the production of the blog is different, too. Far different, but it's for the better."
However, while this sounds great for the blog, readers are more likely concerned with story; the inner workings of "Life in Salem" can be left to those in charge. However, what will the readers see?
"ML has been working extremely hard over the past few months on the storylines that will soon be heading the readers' way; like I said, LIS was in a transition period when it stopped, and so when it returns, it obviously still will be. The next few months of LIS will really be filled with ending current stories, and starting new ones. We have a lot of exits coming; LIS will have a smaller cast than ever before. As certain stories end, characters will be phased out, but the door is always open for returns down the road. Right now, though, it's not happening; however, there will be a few returns. A few new characters. These people will be slowly eased in and merged with our current cast. They will interact with a lot of people currently on LIS, and will slowly build up to their own stories, which will be massive. Life in Salem is headed for more character-driven territory; a lot of LIS has been filled with camp and action. That is changing, somewhat; we will be digging deep into the characters' hearts and emotions. Their feelings. There will be a lot of romance, a lot of emotional material. As time goes on, mystery will start to play in to the equation. But what else could LIS be about? Maybe it will have some different stories, maybe a few different characters, but at it's core, it remains the same: Love, mystery, and adventure. Diversity is being increased; the Hortons are going to take the front stage. Long-time couples, heroes, and villians will find themselves in a tail spin. These changes may seem scary, but LIS is going to be hitting the big 500 episode mark within fifty episodes. In a few months, it will have it's five year anniversery; I think it needs some fresh air."
Now, what are these big changes? What in the world is going to happen to this blog? Well, while sources refused to get a play by play of every single story, arrival, and exit coming up on Life in Salem, the list of people exiting, and arriving, has been released. That has only happened once before in LIS history, and this one is a much bigger list. Without any further adieu, the characters/actors departing from the soap are:
Jensen Ackles(Eric Brady)
Kimberlin Brown(Megan Hathaway DiMera)
Daphne Bloomner(Eugenia Willens)
Matt Cedeno(Brandon Walker)
Robin Christopher(Dr. Robin Jacobs)
Christie Clarke(Carrie Brady)
Bryan Dattilo(Lucas Roberts)
Farah Fath(Mimi Lockhart)
Heather Lindell(Jan Spears Roberts)
Julianne Morris(Greta Von Amberg)
Brandy Norwood(Dr. Phyliss Stansville)
Thaao Penghlis(Andre DiMera)
Louise Sorel(Vivian Alamain Kiriakis)
Gina Tognoni(April Ramirez)
Greg Vaughan(Detective Chris Reddins)
Valerie Wildman(Faye Walker)
Bree Williamson(Alexis Kefer)
Eric Winter(Rex Brady)
Also, dropped to recurring is Tanya Boyd(Celeste Perrault), who will remain on the LIS cast, but in a lesser capacity.
"There are some big names on that LIS; big names. Louise Sorel, Christie Clarke...it sounds insane. Some of those exits had already been announced, but hadn't really happened yet, so they were re-stated here. That is a LOT to take in; I'm sure that anyone who reads this is going to wonder how the cast can survive this. Some of these people are keys to so many stories! Well, I can't reveal how they exit; you just have to read to see it all come together. Some won't be gone for a while, and others will be out within a few weeks. With a lot of these exits, the door is always open for a return down the road, so don't count them all out for good," Tara stated.
Now, to counteract the list of massive cuts, "Life in Salem" also released a list of returns/additions to the cast, with some equally shocking names on the list:
Drake Hogestyn(John Black)
Michael B. Jordan(Reggie Carver)
Kristoff St. John(Jonah Carver)
Jerry verDorn(Bill Horton)
Walt Willey(Franklin Stokes)
"Obviously, that list is not nearly as large, but the list has some big names on it," remarked Tara. "John Black is making his way back to LIS, as is another legendary character, Bill Horton, with the face of soap vet Jerry verDorn! Jerry is a fantastic actor, and unfortunately, all of the other actors who played Bill have left this Earth. ML and I both feel confident that Jerry playing Bill is a great choice, and Bill is going to play a huge role on LIS; so many family and friends are already on the cast. This is the perfect time for him to show up and take his place as the Horton patriarch; we've also have Jonah Carver, another character from the past, returning; he is bringing along a son, Reggie. He is going to increase diversity, as well as help the Carver family grow; expect the Carvers to take a center stage on LIS. Jonah is going to have a huge story that pulls a lot of our beloved characters into madness, and Reggie is going to make a great addition to LIS' very small teen scene. Franklin, played by yet another soap vet, AMC's very own Walt Willey, obviously shares last names with Destiny; we'll see what their connection is, but he's also going to mix it up with a lot of our Salemites over time. All of this won't be right off the bat; it will be slow. Every single one of these characters has to be slowly integrated onto the canvas. It will take time, but Life in Salem is coming back, and it's coming back with a bang. Expect to see the first episode of LIS' return, 451, THIS Monday. There's going to be a lot going on, but stay tuned! It's good to be back!"