Fans Get Up Close With Favorite Soap Stars


"Days Of Our Lives" actors visit Des Peres to promote new book



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Actors from "Days of Our Lives," from left, James Reynolds, Bryan Dattilo and Kate Mansi greet fans a book signing at Barnes and Noble on Monday. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
September 27, 2013
Actors from the Emmy-award winning soap opera, "Days of Our Lives," thrilled hundreds of fans at a book signing at the Des Peres Barnes and Noble on Monday night, Sept. 23.

The actors are on a multi-state tour to plug the show's newly released book, "Days of Our Lives: Better Living," which came out that day. Groups of five actors are visiting various cities. The St. Louis group included James Reynolds (Abe), Bryan Datillo (Lucas), Shawn Christian (Daniel), Arianne Zucker (Nicole) and Kate Mansi (Abigail). They spoke with fans at Barnes and Noble after spending the day doing TV promos and visiting the John Cochran V.A. Medical Center.

Better Living Book

The book, written by Greg Meng and Eddie Campbell, features five lifestyle categories: Nutrition, exercise, style, inspiration and balance. It includes tips and recipes given by the actors on how they keep body and mind together, in spite of the rigors of filming a five-day-a-week show.

It came about after the actors toured in 2010 for the show's 45th anniversary. Meng, the show's co-executive producer, said that fans wanted to know how cast members never seemed to age and how they stayed in shape.

This book will give fans an insight into the actors' private lives.

"We're on screen and people want to know what we do," Zucker said. "We're kind of mentors, but there is an element of privacy that we like to maintain. We share ourselves in the book."

Mansi agreed.

"It's a beautiful thing when we can share a little piece with our fans about ourselves in a way that's very relatable," she said.

Reynolds said the book is about how everyone maintains themselves with their own personal philosophy of staying healthy, involved and energetic.

Reynolds, who has been on the show for the better part of 32 years, uses the treadmill 30 minutes a day, four days a week. He also owns a television and film production company, which allows him another outlet for his creative energy.

Datillo said he loves "the big three" - basketball, football and baseball.

"I have a 13-year-old son who is involved in all sports, and I coach him," he said. "But now he's out-jumping me on jump balls!"

In his quiet time, he writes poetry and spends time with his family.

Christian also loves basketball and said, "If there's a court nearby, I'll be late for my own funeral."

He quiets his mind by painting. He is quoted in the book saying, "I've always gravitated towards creating something out of nothing."

Zucker does not confine herself to one activity.

"I do 175,000 things because I'm a Gemini and a workaholic. I've had a job since I was 15, and ridden horses since I was three," she said. "I also waterski, golf and play basketball.

She is also committed to an organization she co-founded with her brother, Todd. Arrow Heart Adventure Camp, a camp for nonviolent teenagers at risk of being incarcerated, will be launched on Sept. 29 in Boise, Idaho.

Mansi has been dancing for years and moved from studying ballet to modern and contemporary.

"I think this book is fantastic because it showcases just a tidbit of our favorite things," she said.

Datillo spoke about the show's recipe for success.

"Ours is like American pie. It's like a staple of the nation, and I think 'Days' is different from other soaps in the way people perceive it," he said.

"They (fans) love what we do, they believe who we are, believe our lives, and love to fall into an alternate reality once a day and get away from whatever is on their minds," he said.

"Days of Our Lives"

"Many of our fans have said they started watching with their mothers or grandmothers, and it mirrors the family values we have," Mansi said.

Soaps have to change with the times, and "Days" is no different.

"To maintain the idea of fantasy and romance, drama and intrigue throughout the decades and still be relevant is the hardest part," Christian said. "Now we have a gay story line, very hip, so you can continue to maintain your roots and be true to what created the show, but push the envelope a little."

Many times, fans forget that these individuals are actors, and will come to them with their personal problems, which is what happened to Reynolds when he was on a USO tour in Iraq.

"A young Marine came up to me sobbing, and said his wife was leaving him," said Reynolds, who has had his share of relationship problems on the show. "I talked to him for half an hour giving advice, and it was nice to be able to give somebody comfort."

With 48 years under its belt, "Days" actors have seen cast members come and go, and they consider themselves a family.

"Kate and I are relative newcomers," Christian said. "We listen to them tell stories of past decades of people who have come and gone, but they have maintained friendships and loyalty to each other."

"Everyone is so dedicated to their job and characters, and their understanding of that makes the show better," Datillo said.

While some characters portray people who may have some less-than-desirable qualities - or worse - fans connect with them.

"Even though Ari's character, Nicole, is not always the nicest person, and Brian has had issues, the audience loves those people because who they really are shines through," Reynolds said. "There's a charm, a kindness, and that's how I feel about knowing the people in this room."

And, in case fans are wondering, all of these actors look just as good in person as they do on the show, so they must practice what they preach.

"Days of Our Lives: Better Living" is on sale now at bookstores.

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