One of the longest-running shows on television could soon be singing its swan song.
That’s not yet confirmed, but “Days of Our Lives” fans will be alarmed to learn Tuesday that NBC has suddenly halted production on the iconic soap opera — and released every last cast member from their contracts. In other words, the actors are “free to get new jobs, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the show’s definitely sunk,” TMZ reports, adding that the show has “NOT been canceled. Not yet.”
Among the cast members affected are longtime stars like Deidre Hall, 72, who’s been on the show for 40 years, and John Aniston, 86, who started his run in 1985.
The indefinite hiatus is effective immediately, and the network will reconvene in early 2020 to decide whether to resume production and bring the show back for a 56th season.
TMZ also notes that it’s “possible” that the cast will ultimately be invited to return but at lower salaries.
The news out of NBC comes as all networks are carefully navigating a new landscape of digital-first programming. NBC is preparing to launch its streaming service, Peacock, in 2020. A visit to NBC’s current site shows that seasons 54 and 55 of “Days of Our Lives” are available in the system, but no earlier episodes. It’s unclear whether past seasons of the show will be housed on Peacock.
Premiering in 1965, “Days of Our Lives” has remained a daytime television staple with more than 13,000 episodes under its belt. The cast has seen its share of losses over the years, most recently saying goodbye to John Clarke, who originated his role of Mickey Horton in the show’s very first season. He appeared on the show for 39 years before leaving in 2004.
Clarke died in October 2019 at 88 years old.