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TV GUIDE, May 25, 2002
 
LIFE INSURANCE
 
A good villain always has something up his sleeve.  Tony DiMera, the exotic Days of Our Lives baddie played by Thaao Penghlis died and was buried in 1995 when Penghlis fell out of favor with the show's head writer (that would be James E. Reilly, now of Passions fame).  But the actor didn't get mad.  He got inventive.  And as a result, he's returning to the NBC soap as Tony on June 21, with a long-term contract.  "When they decided to put my character in a coffin, I thought to myself, 'How can I beat this' " recalls Penghlis, who--without discussing it with the producers--wore clothes and displayed mannerisms in his final scenes that weren't quite Tony-like.  "I also smoked a cigar, something Tony would never do," says Penghlis, "all to suggest it was really an imposter who died."  Says new Days head writer Peter Brash:  "Thaao very cleverly passed us a ball.  We're running with it."
 
 
 
SOAP OPERA UPDATE, June 4, 2002
 
IS JOHN SEEING WHAT'S TO COME?
 
Happily Ever After
 
After slipping into a deep slumber, John is tormented by terrifying images.  He imagines himself chained to a wall in a dark, foreboding dungeon.  As he struggles to free himself, John is subjected to cruel torture at the hands of a familiar enemy.  Meanwhile, John's thrashing disturbs Marlena's sleep.  She tries to free him from his horrifying nightmare.  Still half-asleep, John reacts with force and nearly breaks Marlena's hand.  Suddenly, John springs up and struggles to clear his groggy mind.  A concerned Marlena comforts her husband, assuring him that he is safe and sound in their bed.
 
John insists they're far from safe.  He rocounts his nightmare, explaining that it felt as if he was being warned there's danger ahead.  John vows to stop whatever threatens to harm his loved ones. 
 
Night Terrors
 
Soon after, it becomes apparent that John's dark visions signal the return of a DiMera.  But which one?  Stefano, who fled to Europe last year, would most certainly be subjected to criminal charges if he dared showed his face in Salem again.  Kristin or Peter are not DiMeras by blood, but might as well be.  Then again Tony or Andre could return, despite the fact that everyone believes them to be dead.  After all, Stefano isn't called "The Phoenix" for nothing.  Maybe it's in the genes.
 
The reappearance of a formidable DiMera will take place very soon.  It promises to have major impact, perhaps even touching the lives of Colin and--surprise! surprise!--Billie.  Don't forget, three years ago, she packed her bags and moved to Europe.
 
 
 
SOAP OPERA WEEKLY, June 11, 2002
 
DAYS RETURN:  TONY LIVES!
 
Seven years after orchestrating his "death"--taking a bullet and framing John as his murderer--Tony DiMera resurfaces on Days of Our Lives June 21.  As it turns out, Tony didn't die after all.
 
"What I decided to do, in case they wanted to bring the character back, was [to set things up so that] Tony wasn't in that coffin," reveals Thaao Penghlis (Tony).
 
Penghlis' ploy worked--then head writer James E. Reilly (now Passions' head scribe) had scripted what he intended to be the character's death.  "When I went to see Steve Wyman (executive producer) just before returning, he said to me, 'I thought that was the smartest move I've ever seen an actor make.' "
 
So where has Tony been?  "It will all explain itself the first week.  It will all make sense," he assures.  "It's not one of those things where you're going to say, 'Oh, come on!' "
 
During his time away from Days (he left in 1995), Penghlis took three years off from acting.  "Don't ask me in that time what I did," he guffaws.  "Sheri Anderson (former Days head writer) and I did create a writing team.  We have three scripts.  One has just been optioned.  I was also called to Australia to do a miniseries called Tribe with Antonio Sabato Jr. (ex-Jagger Cates, General Hospital) and Joanna Cassidy."
 
When the opportunity to return to Days arose, "The timing was amazing," says Penghlis, who doesn't necessarily want Tony to follow in Stefano's footsteps and become Salem's next supervillain.  "I don't like being [referred to] as that," he asserts.  "I like the word diabolical.  I'll never be what you would call 'the villain.'  I may be somebody that you would love to hate.  I like mischievousness."  Obviously.
 
 
 
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, June 18, 2002
 
DAYS'S TONY RETURNS
 
Even though people rise from the dead all the time in Salem, it's still a surprise that Thaao Penghlis is returning on June 21 as Tony DiMera, who died on-screen in December, 1995.
 
"I saw a loophole," chuckles Penghlis.  Before Tony's "death," he slipped in a scene where his character smoked, something Tony did not do, indicating that the character who died might not have been Tony.  "I had an opportunity and I took it without it being vengeful or anything, except creatively.  When I played it on the last day of shooting, I created an imposter, and here we are nearly seven years later."
 
At the time, he recalls, "A stage manager said to me, 'I know exactly what you're doing.'  I kind of laughed about it.  It's just that when a head writer [then James E. Reilly] tells you that he's nailing you in a coffin for good and you wonder why and you'd lost your parents the same year...I felt it was a nice way of finishing for myself, finding my peace for it.  Thank God [Executive Producer] Steve Wyman, who remembers moments that actors play; he said, 'We can work with it.'  These head writers are excited about the prospects."
 
Penghlis had a warm reunion with Executive Producer Ken Corday.  "I love Ken--he just put his arm around me and said, 'You know, you can still do those love scenes,' " smiles the actor.  "Steve and I always had a great relationship; and to see the cast, it's wonderful.  It's like the good old days."
 
Penghlis has even heard from his former on-screen pop, Joseph Mascolo (ex-Stefano; now-Massimo, B&B).  "Daddy's on another show," sighs Penghlis.  "He called me up and said, 'Hello, this is Daddy.'  I went, 'Oh, hello, Joe.'  He said, 'You s---head, I don't hear from you...'  Who knows?  Maybe in a few years' time, Joe will make his re-entrance.  We always worked well together."
 
As for where Tony has been, "It's pretty good," promises the actor.  "I don't want to give away anything, but it's smart."
 
 
SIZZLING SUMMER PREVIEWS
 
Tony/Marlena/John:  "We have to explain how he's alive," laughs Brash.  "Tony is now at the helm of the DiMera family, and John can't see anything but evil coming from this man."  It also affects Marlena, says Cwikly.  "She may not be as quick to judge [her old friend] as John, but she is equally suspicious."
 
 
 
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, June 25, 2002
 
DAYS'S TONY RETURNS TO SALEM
 
The citizens of Salem are in for a surprise this week when Tony DiMera seemingly rises from the dead and reveals himself to them on Friday at Marlena and John's anniversary celebration at the Penthouse Grill.
 
Throughout the week, John, Abe and Roman are convinced that Stefano is making a return to town; instead, they're greeted by a man who was believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in December, 1995.
 
Another Phoenix?  "I think so," says Tony's portrayer, Thaao Penghlis.  "There could be greater shadows than there were before, only because of survival.  He's a character who will probably affect everyone on the show.  You can't have someone as young as Sami be the villain!"
 
"Villain" may be too pat a description for the returning DiMera, cautions the actor.  "Tony may not be the villain, but he will be the diabolical bastard everyone will love to hate," he laughs.  He'll be different from his papa, too.  "Stefano had enormous size to his character," notes the actor.  "Tony is quieter.  He has these three macho guys--Roman, Abe and John--coming at him and he [underplays it].  He's coming back with dignity; where that dignity comes from, I don't know."
 
Tony's true agenda--and how he is actually alive--will be revealed next week.  "He has secrets, and people will try to learn what those secrets are," previews Penghlis.  "Some will be revealed and some will have to wait."  One of them--a doozy about Stefano--will come as quite a shock.
 
 
 
SOAP OPERA WEEKLY, July 2, 2002
 
DAYS' TONY HITS TOWN
 
Tony gets off the elevator at the Penthouse Grill this week on Days of Our Lives and drops two bombshells.  No. 1:  He isn't dead, but No. 2:  Stefano is.
 
Before he can reveal the second juicy tidbit, John, who was framed for Tony's "murder" years ago, tries to strangle him.  After John is restrained, Tony explains that Stefano saved Andre from drowning in quicksand, then had Andre take Tony's place when Tony was diagnosed with a terminal blood condition.  So it was Andre who framed John, and Andre who died.
 
"That was not an easy sequence," says Thaao Penghlis (Tony) of his first day back at Days in seven years.  "I think I had a seven-page monologue.  My brain has not abosrbed that much dialogue in years."
 
Tony caps off his speech with the real shocker:  Stefano died in a car accident.  But is the Phoenix really dead this time?
 
"Yes.  He's gone on to other pastures, as we know," says Penghlis, referring to Joseph Mascolo's role on The Bold and the Beautiful.  "But you know what it's like.  Three years from now, you could always resurrect [the character]."
 
That's what John, Roman, Bo and Abe are afraid of, so Abe contacts the ISA, which confirms that Stefano is indeed dead.  They're still not convinced, so when Stefano's ashes are brought to Tony, John insists they be tested for authenticity.
 
In the meantime, Tony is the new head of the DiMera family.  But don't expect him to be pure evil.  "I see him as a survivor," says Penghlis.  "Everybody has their shades of gray.  It's human.  Even our heads of government can be looked upon as villains, depending on whose side you're on.
 
"What's interesting with this character is that at the end of the scolding, there's a smile," adds Penghlis.  "So he's not too bad.  I'm trying to come [across] a little bit more...not subdued but calmer and more centered, so that everybody else looks like they're overdoing it."
 
Tony explains that he has returned to town to look after his sister, Lexie.  This week, viewers also discover that Colin has ties to Tony.  And Sami decides to use Tony in her quest for Brandon.  "I think, in some way, he's going to affect everyone," predicts Penghlis.  "The last time I (Tony) saw Sami (Allison Sweeney) she was a little girl in pigtails.  Now she's a grown, sexy woman trying to outsmart me."
 
 
 
TV GUIDE.COM, June 21, 2002
 
ODDS AND ENDS
 
How do you follow up being in a coffin for three days? For Thaao Penghlis (Tony, Days), it was time to toss his theatrical escapades aside. "When I died [on Days], the acting kind of faded too," he tells TV Guide Online candidly. Penghlis turned his passion to the pen. Pairing up with Sheri Anderson, a former Days headwriter, Penghlis began to churn out screenplays. "We have three fantastic scripts in the works, one which has to go to a producer in Europe this weekend," he declares. Now Penghlis is combining his two talents to bring a one-man show to the stage. "It's on a terrorist who tried to assassinate the Hunta in Greece," Penghlis declares. The production will be directed by Penghlis's good friend Milton Katselas, who first inspired him to pursue an acting career. Penghlis plans to premiere the show in Los Angeles, but his dream is to take it back to the motherland. "I'd like to take it to Greece and do it in the ancient amphitheater," he says. But don't pull out the Greek translation dictionary just yet. "Most Greeks speak English, so I'd probably keep it that way," he reveals.
 
 
PENGHLIS RETURNS TO DAYS
 
Even death can't keep Thaao Penghlis down. This week, the Days of Our Lives alum returns to his signature role, Tony DiMera, and the news he brings will turn Salem upside-down. "He returns with dignity," says Penghlis of Tony's return.

Quite a feat for a character who perished in 1995. Penghlis laughs as he recalls the now infamous cigarette scene, which hinted that Tony was actually someone else. "The headwriter of the show [back then] wanted to kill the character off, for whatever reason," Penghlis reveals. A self-proclaimed outspoken individual, Penghlis wasn't pleased with the timing of Tony's demise. "This person didn't create this character... I decided I was going to beat him at his own game by creating someone else in such a subtle way." With new writers at the Days helm, Penghlis is starting with a clean slate. "It's kind of nice when the writers are excited for you and themselves," he says. "They pass me the bread, and I pass them a sandwich."

Much like his character, Penghlis's return to daytime has been one of dignity. The actor was planning a trip back to Greece and his heritage when he got the Days call. "I went in to meet with [Days executive producer] Ken Corday, and it was just like old times," he says. "It's like old friendships. You know when they have life and when they are over. This was certainly far from over."

Penghlis's return isn't just a reviving experience for the actor, but for his old castmates as well. Tony's return has doubled the screen time of some other Days veterans. "Deidre [Hall (Marlena)] was excited I was going to be working with her and Drake [Hogestyn (John)] too, because we work off of each other so well," he exclaims. For Penghlis, age has everything to do with it. "There's something about maturity you can't replace," he stresses. "Youth is youth. But when you really want to hear something that's well said, you have to go to the trained ones." Penghlis, whose first week is filled with monologues to clarify Tony's return, reveals he received a standing ovation from his peers during taping. "I think they were applauding themselves too. We all survived."

 

SOAP OPERA DIGEST, July 2, 2002

NBC GOSSIP

Fantastic Voyage:  Before reporting to work at DAYS, Thaao Penghlis (Tony) made a special trip to Greece and Egypt.  "It was a fantastic journey," he enthuses.  "I thought I'd go and fill myself out before I [started work].  Egypt was fascinating.  I took a balloon ride out of the Valley of the Kings.  It was a very spiritual journey.  I got to see places that you only hear about.  I read that there was a place where the Virgin Mary and Christ, when he was a child, escaped Herod [and went] into Egypt.  Two days later, I go into this monastery and the priest recognizes me as a Grecian, comes and gives me a private lesson and takes me downstairs to this ancient thing and says, 'This is the spot where they hid.'  So, it was like that.  I was embraced.  They gave me a party in Athens at the end with 2,000 people.   MISSION:  IMPOSSIBLE [in which he played Nicholas from 1988-1990] is a bit hit over there.  They had all my work, from DAYS OF OUR LIVES to MISSION, playing on a big screen as I walked in.  At first, I was embarrassed, but it was kind of a catharsis.  It finally dawned on me that the past had flown on me, and I was being embraced for the present into the future.  It was kind of wonderful."

 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

O BROTHER, WHERE ART THAAO?  IN DAYS ROLE

Tony DiMera returned to "Days of Our Lives" this week, and on today's episode, he will pull a stunt with Colin that will give viewers some insight into what he's doing back in town.

"Tony is an enigma right now," says Thaao Penghlis, who is back as Tony after a seven-year absence.  "I like playing the unexpected; it lends itself to the diabolical. Not that Tony is a liar--I think of him more as a person who knows how to place information."

He'll do lots of that next week, first with Bart and then with Sami, of all people.

"Boy, was that enjoyable," says the actor of his scenes with Alison Sweeney, who plays Sami Brady.  "I think [viewers] will cheer when they see what Tony does to her. He calls her on her game and something surprising happens in the scene.  I can't say what.  Also, John breaks into Tony's house and steals something very important to him."

Now that Tony's father, Stefano, has been declared dead, it looks as if Tony will be only too happy to follow in his evil footsteps.

"Well, he's certainly a catalyst," says Penghlis.  "He's got all the marbles and he's placing them wherever he wants.  He will be affecting everyone in Salem.  I'm finding that I am so upsetting to everybody that it's a joy.  I'm also finding myself laughing at the scripts. I'm a cause, not an effect."

We might even see Tony DiMera with a love interest.

"Ken Corday said, 'Omigod, you can still take your shirt off and play love scenes,'" Penghlis says, referring to the show's longtime executive producer.

"They are the worst.  I remember one time with Eileen Davidson [ex-Kristen], I popped out her left breast.  And my makeup is always so much darker than the actress'.  I have to watch out that I don't get my dark makeup on those delicate faces."

 

SOAP OPERA UPDATE, July 16, 2002

TONY RISES FROM THE ASHES!

Now that Thaao Penghlis has returned to DAYS, guest editor Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie) tries to uncover the real reason for his return

Open the Bible or any newspaper and you'll read that devils walk the Earth.  In Salem, on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, where events are often more super than natural, Satan has always been welcome.

Applause For His Return

When Thaao Penghlis--evil Stefano's crown prince Tony DiMera--stepped back on stage after a six-year absence, he had applause from cast and crew, then flowers and embraces from show executive producer Ken Corday.  Thaao is that rare gem, a "fresh" familiar face.  He's portrayed Tony (and for a time, he took on the dual role of eviler look-alike cousin Andre) with ominous glamour.  Solo in the spotlight this time, Thaao says, "It's a different dance" for the character.  "Tony has arrived with a stillness to his diabolical power," he elaborates.  Tony's style contrasts with most Salemites, but Penghlis warns that "when the fame gets too familiar, he changes the rules."  Many of the cast he once worked with--Stefano, Anna, Calliope, Eugene and Kristen--have gone, but with sister Lexie, John, Marlena and the Brady clan in place, the accomplished actor realizes that the new writers have placed him "on the front line."  So, expect surprises.

Penghlis looks no older, but seems wiser.  Just returned from Egypt, he speaks in technicolor images about what he's seen:  "The new library at Alexandria looks like the sun rising out of the Mediterranean Sea...the shade of aqua blue in King Farouk's palace."  He's an enchanter.

Favorite Things

Traveling the world to learn and feel, he writes, he reads, he breathes life in and exhales conclusions.  An aura of sensuous wisdom pours out of Thaao like perfume, making him the man any woman over 18 would want to catch behind her bedroom door.

When I first met the Greek-American actor, we crossed swords instantly (alas, we both love to have the last word!).  Nowadays, I treasure his lucid remarks and steal them for my own sililoquies.  Here are some tastes of his...

Favorite ancient art:  "The Winged Victory"

Favorite Modern Song:  "Always On My Mind"

For Lunch: crab cakes (my personal favorite!)

Favorite Time Of Day:  dusk

Happiest Moments In Life:  "Watching the moon rise over the pyramids with lots of champagne" and "dancing with Leann Hunley (Anna) and dipping her until I dropped her."

"Why Does A Nice Town Like Salem Need You?"  I ask him, and without missing a beat, he says, "To test the heroes!" as he gives me a princely smile.

Ken Corday appears at the door to take his star to lunch.  Their mood is joyful.  Ken is banking on his Greek treasure to enrich the show once again.  When he returns from their lunch date, Thaao confides, "Ken was so very generous and gentle.  I truly felt a real blessing."

A True Miracle

I have one last question for Thaao:  "But didn't your character--and the cousin you also played--die?"

"This is Salem," he says, with a smile.  "Where else would you get a third chance to live?!"

Welcome home, you devil.

PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT... (pic of Thaao with his arms crossed went with this section)

...Next Best Thing

If Salem has to be without it's super-villain Stefano DiMera (played by Joseph Mascolo, who is now wreaking havoc on B&B), DAYS OF OUR LIVES' exciting new headwriters did the next brilliant thing:  They brought back a DiMera.  Thaao Penghlis was always fascinating to watch as Tony, the on-and-off-again villain/romantic lead, and should bring sophistication and evil to Salem.  And, of course, mystery...because we never know what a DiMera may be up to!

 

SOAP OPERA UPDATE, July 30, 2002

GOOD VS. EVIL

DAYS' John and Tony square off.  Will Marlena be the ultimate prize?

DAYS OF OUR LIVES' Tony orchestrates an elaborate dinner party for the reading of Stefano's will.  But the presence of an unexpected guest threatens to overshadow the surprises that will be revealed in Stefano's will.  It could lead to an ultimate battle between John and Tony over Marlena--and her offspring!  Thaao Penghlis (Tony) previews, "It's going to be an interesting battle of wits, without having to resort to gunplay."

The intrigue begins when John interrupts a private encounter between Marlena and Tony.  Both Marlena and Tony anticipate an explosive reaction from John.  Instead, he's surprisingly cordial, which stuns both of them.  "John is being counseled by his wife and Kate Roberts to change his approach with Tony," explains Drake Hogestyn (John).  In order for John to get what he wants, Marlena and Kate have suggested that he not be so confrontational."

In fact, John displays amazing restraint as he struggles to give Tony the benefit of the doubt regarding a troubling incident from their past.  "It's a different shift in John's attitude towards the DiMeras.  Hopefully, in allowing for the benefit of doubt in this particular situation, he also stays focused on the fact that the DiMeras are still bad people."

Tony also puts up a curious front when he invites John and Marlena to his upcoming dinner party.  In a show of good sportsmanship, they accept, which pleases him tremendously.

Later, Tony confides to his secret cohort Colin that his primary intention is to get closer to both John and Marlena.

"It's going to be an interesting triangle," previews Penghlis.  "There's a sense of maturity to their behavior.  It's about people who are using their minds.  So, there's an intelligence which I like.  There's also an element of humor.  We'll see what kind of dance is played."

Soon after, Tony becomes preoccupied with an empty cobalt blue box.  He vows to win back the key to the box from John.  Moments later, John arrives to present Tony with an unexpected gift.

That evening, Tony makes an appearance at the hospital blood drive, with his sister Lexie by his side.  After delivering a very sincere speech on behalf of Chloe's plight, Tony donates a large check to The Leukemia Foundation.  The move inspires John to match Tony's donation.

Meanwhile, Sami arranges a secret meeting with Tony in the alley outside the hospital.  Their hushed meeting is interrupted by John, who demands to know what is going on between them.

"John's facade slips when he shows his disapproval of Sami and her relationship with Tony," reveals Hogestyn, who also notes, "In the past, we haven't explored a lot about John's relationship with Sami or Eric.  When Marlena was presumed dead, he raised them for years as a single parent.  He will always consider Sami his daughter.  Now that he is aware that there is a dynamic between Sami and Tony, John will be very watchful of Sami."

Though Tony offers what he thinks is a logical explanation for why he and Sami are meeting in the alley, John is skeptical.  "He may be tipping his hand," observes Hogestyn.  "Instead of showing even the slightest hint of disappointment, John might be better off steering Sami in a different direction.  After John exits, the true nature of the meeting between Sami and Tony is revealed.  In the process, Sami is tempted to make a deal with the devil when she negotiates an arrangement with Tony.  Shortly after, the guests for Tony's dinner party gather at the DiMera mansion.  The occasion also marks the reading of Stefano's will.  The arrival of Tony's mystery guest stuns everyone.

"We're moving into a whole new chapter here," teases Hogestyn.  "It's going to be played closer to the vest than before, with a lot more twists, turns and nuances.  It's also going to bring a lot of characters into the story.  This isn't just between John and Tony."