Monday, March 19, 2012

Can One of These "Days of Our Lives" Divas Pass for the Other's Daughter?

Photo (and joke) courtesy of Salem on Salem, my new favorite Days website.
When did Lisa Rinna (above, left, reprising Billie Reed on Days of Our Lives) stop being an occasionally entertaining actress/frequently annoying television personality and burst into an out-of-control raging hot mess?

I missed her first stint on Days of Our Lives from 1992 to 1995 (I didn't start watching until late 2004), but I adored her as Taylor McBride on Melrose Place. I'll never forget ROTFL (before that acronym even existed) every time she hid behind a potted plant eavesdropping on any private conversation between two people who were dumb enough to have one when she was in the vicinity. Although her bitchfests with Heather Locklear's Amanda Woodward didn't quite rival Alexis vs. Krystle on Dynasty, Rinna had me glued to my couch from 8 to 9pm every Monday evening from 1996 to 1998.

The bloom started to fade from Rinna's rose in 2005 when I met her at the official Daytime Emmys after-party. I was disappointed that the chatty "Let's dish, girl" persona she had cultivated as the co-host of SoapNet's Soap Talk couldn't have been further from the woman posing in front of me.

It's not that she was rude, just aloof and super serious. Maybe she was missing hubby Harry Hamlin, who was nowhere in sight. Not once did she crack a smile, and I would have noticed if she had because those lips didn't once leave my line of vision. After I was so charmed by multiple-Emmy winner Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord on One Life to Live) -- who'd triumphed for the sixth time as Best Actress that very evening and was so thrilled when I called her "fierce" that she bragged about it to her costar Robin Strasser (Dorian Lord) -- and Daytime Emmy-winning General Hospital stars Steve Burton (Jason), Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis) and Anthony Geary (Luke Spencer), who'd take Best Actor for the fifth time the following year, who was Lisa Rinna to play too-A-list-for-that-Manhattan-ballroom?

After that, I lost interest in her. I missed her stint on Dancing with the Stars during the show's second season because, as I've noted before, I don't like to watch... people dance. I also missed her last year on Celebrity Apprentice, but I didn't miss her very public war of words with Star Jones. I'm still not sure what was up between the two D-list divas, but you've got to be doing something very wrong to make me root for Star Jones.

Too bad I couldn't have been spared Rinna's recent return to Days, too. I was already over her before she even came back, due to some unfortunate comments she made on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live earlier this month. While playing host Andy Cohen's game "Plead the Fifth," Rinna suggested that Taylor Armstrong from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills should have lip reduction surgery and that Joe Mascolo, who plays evil genius Stefano DiMera, was the worst actor ever to appear on Days. Now I couldn't care less what you say about any TV Housewife who isn't Desperate, but you don't mess with Stefano DiMera!

Of course, he can stand up for himself. Ever the gentleman, Mascolo, whose winter scarves could act circles around Rinna's lips, publicly responded thusly to Soap Opera Digest: "Lisa saying that Taylor should have her lips reduced and calling me the worst actor on DAYS is sort of like the pot calling the kettles black!" (She tweeted an apology the next day, but why did she have to "go there" in the first place?)

If only her return to Days this month had been so entertaining. In just a few short episodes, she's already woken up in her brother's marital bed, fake-cried over a comatose Bo Brady in a hospital room that looked like somebody's linen closet, and challenged the levels of implausibility acceptable even for a campy soap opera that has seen countless characters come back from the dead and its lead diva possessed by the devil.

Mother and son, or cougar and prey?
How'd she pull that one off? Simply by sharing scenes with Lauren Koslow, who plays Billie's mother, Kate DiMera. Although Rinna is 48 and Koslow is 59, which makes the mother-daughter relationship acceptable in soap years (over on The Young and the Restless, Genie Francis is playing mom to an actor nine years her junior), the two are as believable as mother and child as Annette Bening and Naomi Watts were in Mother and Child. It's not all Rinna's fault -- though her, ahem, enhancements have aged her in the wrong direction. Koslow must be the hottest near-sixtysomething in Hollywood.

But then, Koslow is an actress whose character has bedded the same guy as her granddaughter, and who's been cast as the romantic rival of Nadia Bjorlin's Chloe Lane, possibly the most beautiful character (and actress) ever to grace a soap. Sadly, and somewhat predictably, Kate lost -- but that's another story full of intrigue, attempted murder (by poisoning), a suicide attempt (by drowning), prostitution, and, of course, a child-custody battle.

I think it's time to invite Emmy winner Julie Pinson, who was the last actress to play Billie, back to reprise the role, and make Rinna Kate's long-lost (more) evil sister. God knows Kate could use some competition her own age -- oops, who looks her own age -- and then Rinna can play the bitch she was born to be and let the cat fur fly!
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