411mania Interviews: Alison Sweeney
Alison Sweeney is about to begin her 6th season as host of NBC’s The Biggest Loser and this month celebrates the start of her 18th year of her award winning performance as Sami Brady on Days of Our Lives.
Al Norton: Happy New Year. How were your holidays? How did you ever find time to shop?
Alison Sweeney: It was tough to find time for everything!! I’m a big fan of online shopping. It saves the day every time. But I miss strolling through shops finding the ‘perfect’ gift. I ve got to be honest, this year I did a lot of gift cards. In fact, Bob, Jillian, and I went in together and bought some really great gift cards for the crew, and we did a raffle for who won what. It ended up being a really fun way to give out stuff people really wanted – iTunes, Amazon etc.
Al Norton: Have you ever stopped to think that your life – wife, mother of two, author, health & wellness advocate, star of two big network series – would make for a great TV show? Assuming you are too busy to do three shows, who would you want to play you?
Alison Sweeney: That’s funny, I’m really busy, but I feel my life is pretty normal. So it’s so weird to think it would be interesting on TV. Who would I want to play me? Maybe Christine Taylor?
Al Norton: In a time where most shows audiences are declining it must be enormously satisfying to know that the most recent season of The Biggest Loser put up some of the best numbers in series history.
Alison Sweeney: It’s nice being part of a show that’s so positive and uplifting. It definitely says a lot that it’s so popular, and that America wants to be inspired and enjoy watching people succeed.
Al Norton: Tell me a little bit about the new season. I know you’ve said in our previous conversations that each cast has its own dynamic so how if this group different from others.
Alison Sweeney: This group is certainly a special group. They have been so fun. Once again we’re doing ‘Couples’, so people have started out in teams of two, bringing a loved one with them. There are a lot of parent/child teams this season. I’m actually on set with them right now – we’re shooting about half way through the season… There is definitely someone for everyone in this group.
Al Norton: Aside from each group of competitors bring newness to a season, how much time is spent on the production side to make sure the various challenges are fresh?
Alison Sweeney: The show works. So the set-up stays the same in a lot of ways. We know better than anyone, the success of the show is based on the contestants, their stories, their journey. Of course we want to keep things interesting – there is a heart-breaking moment in the first episode that reminds everyone to expect the unexpected. We’re always coming up with new challenges, a lot more fun informative pop-challenges.
Al Norton: I read some quotes from you expressing your unhappiness about the decision not to renew Bryan Dattilo’s Days of Our Lives contract…How hard was it to go to work the next day? How do your keep your focus when something like that happens?
Alison Sweeney: It is so sad for me that Bryan is leaving Days. I’m sad for the show and the characters. They haven’t had a great story for Lucas for a while now, and Bryan is a really talented actor. I’m sorry Days couldn’t make the most of that. I don’t know how they’ll address it with Sami; I’ll just remind myself that it’s a ‘business’ and that we’re all professionals. 17 years is a long time to work with someone. He will always be my friend.
Al Norton: Not that it’s not still a possibility but did you think that Sami and Lucas ultimately belong together?
Alison Sweeney: I can’t answer that. For several reasons. Different head writers have had different takes on this. It seems apparent that Dena & Gary feel that Lucas isn’t Sami’s future.
Al Norton: Last month came news that another long running daytime drama – As The World Turns – had been cancelled. Do you think that nighttime series taking on some soapier relationship entanglements in their plot lines – I am thinking about shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives – have played a role in the shrinking in scripted daytime programming?
Alison Sweeney: Not at all. I think the economy and the ever more competitive marketplace have lent to Daytime, as well as every aspect of entertainment struggling. If anything prime-time soaps only reminds executives how viable the medium is. That audiences still want drama and good love stories.
Al Norton: Since everything comes back in vogue in the entertainment industry if you wait long enough do you think there may be a time when networks decide they do want 10 straight hours of Judge shows and start to develop new daytime dramas again?
Alison Sweeney: Everything is cyclical. Gary (our executive producer) has found a way to make Days successful under a very strict budget. He’s done an amazing job with the show, and proving that it is possible. We were the only soap to have new viewers last year! It’s been an incredible year for the show. So yes, with examples like that I can see it leading the way for new soaps some day.
Al Norton: What TV are you finding time to watch lately?
Alison Sweeney: Grey’s, House, Survivor, Amazing Race.
Al Norton: I know it’s early but it looks like my Celtics and your Lakers might be meeting up in the finals again…Can I interest you in a friendly wager?
Alison Sweeney: Oohh. Sounds good. I’ll take that. Last week on Twitter I bet a fan 1 hour on the Stairmaster. It was the game against the Kings that Kobe shot that 3 to beat the buzzer. Crazy shot. Want to match that bet?
Al Norton: If it can be an exercise bike instead of a Stairmaster, I’m in! Here’s a chance to pitch for new viewers…For people who haven’t given The Biggest Loser a shot yet, what might appeal to them about season 9? What might surprise them?!
Alison Sweeney: “Half ton twins, biggest player ever, and watch us take on Olympic Athletes!!” As I said, I’m standing here with them and for people who haven’t watched the show, you don’t understand that it goes way beyond weight loss. It’s about people overcoming obstacles – making miracles happen. It will encourage you, inspire you, and hook you in to watch again!
Don’t miss the season premiere of The Biggest Loser tonight at 8 pm on NBC