LAS VEGAS - From the stage of the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, “All My Children” star Susan Lucci announced, “Daytime television is alive and well!” Though her voice rang with conviction, it was an ironic statement coming from an actress whose longtime soap acting gig was downsized after “AMC” got the ax earlier this year. While she wasn’t the only soap star to smile bravely in the face of bad news, more than a few stars I spoke with on the red carpet expressed sadness, hope and their own ideas on how to save the troubled daytime drama genre.

Peggy McCay of “Days of Our Lives” tries to put a positive spin on things (“It’s awful and I’m so sorry. It makes me grateful and happy that we’re here.”), as did Melissa Archer, who just got her pink slip from the recently canceled “One Life to Live.” “I’m still working, because we air until January,” she said. “It’s bittersweet, but you have to look at the good side. We get to see an ending, a big ending, and that’s exciting. It’s like a movie.”
 
“Days” star (and Australian) Bren Foster had an even-handed take on the cancellations. “I feel for the actors, but actors are quite resilient. We’re used to rejection. But I feel more for the crew and the stage managers, those sort. I know people who’ve been on ‘Days’ for thirty years plus, and I’m guessing that’s true on those shows.”
 
But Foster isn’t convinced it’s curtains for daytime dramas – as long as people speak up. “Just look at the fan base. They’re so loyal, and they’re not gonna go away. The fans do have a voice. With shows getting canceled, it the fans voice their opinions they can’t be ignored. I think there will always be a place for daytime dramas.”
 
John Aniston (Jennifer’s dad), who’s been on “Days” since 1985, expressed tempered optimism about the fate of soaps. “You have heads rolling the way they’re rolling now, there’s always a pall,” he admitted. “But there’s always a place for people to tell stories, and people like to hear them. Soaps will be around someplace. I don’t know if it will be on the four networks, but they’ll be somewhere.”
 
His “Days” co-star Casey Deidrick hopes the show will dodge a bullet with the addition of new writers and a faster, more youthful tempo. “I think younger viewers, maybe they don’t watch soaps because it’s a slower pace, so maybe faster scenes and some changes in camera angles and lighting will make a difference to viewers.”
 
Rodney Saulsberry of “The Bold and the Beautiful” is looking away from the big four networks to a (potentially) more powerful TV deity for help. “I’m hopeful that maybe Oprah Winfrey will put [the cancelled shows] on her network. I’m of a strong belief that the genre will never die because it’s so important to our society.” And though he understands why shows like “Days” are trying to mix things up, he thinks his own show has already raised the bar. “We’re only thirty minutes, so I think we’re already doing different things. I think the other shows are going to have to keep up with us.”

”Bold” star Ron Moss thinks there may be ways to save the soap – ways that the networks have yet to exploit. “For me it’s sad a network would negate that many fans,” he said of ABC. “How many shows do we actually pass down from generation to generation? Those two shows have so many fans that would and could watch on TiVo, on the Internet, or in some other medium. They need other ways to watch them.”
 
Moss’ wife Devin DeVasquez, a former Playboy Playmate, also weighed in. “What Hollywood is missing is that not one but two people have to work in a family today, so housewives aren’t watching at home. They tape soaps and watch them at night. The Nielsen thing doesn’t make sense, because people are watching, just not when they’re airing. I think they should put them in prime time.”
 
Camila Banus of “Days” suggests soaps would be wise to keep another audience in mind as well. “A lot of people think Latinos who only speak Spanish don’t understand, but they do. So many people are learning English, and soaps are a great way to learn. We’re dramatic, the pace is a little slower because it’s not a comedy, so it’s easy to understand.”