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Soap Dish: There's still Hope (and Bo!) for 'Days of our Lives' fans


Friday, November 28th 2008, 4:00 AM

As cited last week, "Days of Our Lives" is making major cast cuts to stay on the air with a vastly reduced budget. Longtime stars Drake Hogestyn (John) and Deidre Hall (Marlena) will exit in January, followed by undetermined others.

Are fellow biggies Kristian Alfonso (Hope) and Peter Reckell (Bo) safe?

"I'm always thinking, 'Am I going to get the call?'" say Alfonso, who's played heroine Hope Brady since 1983. "I never take anything for granted."

Alfonso says the cast was stunned to hear Hogestyn and Hall had gotten the ax.

"Everyone was aghast when we heard about Dee and Drake," she says. "Drake came up to me the other day and said, 'It's been so great working with you.' I said, 'Don't you dare say goodbye to me.' I felt tears starting to well."

The good news is that "Days" will stay on the air until 2010.

"We are picked up for 18 months," says Alfonso. "I've heard there are going to be more financial cuts, and not just our show."

Indeed, NBC has said it will cut $500 million in operating expenses over the next year.

"It's happening everywhere. I'm thankful every day I walk through those doors. The economy is a disaster right now."

Alfonso has hedged her bets against the downturn by using her soap-star status to launch a successful jewelry line called Hope, Faith, Miracles.

"It's nerve-racking starting a new business, but it's doing great," she says of her jewelry, sold on the Home Shopping Network and online (www.hopefaithmiracles.com). "I love designing jewelry."

Alfonso got the idea to launch the business after she started wearing her own designs on the show and fans started asking about them. "People would call production and ask where they could purchase my jewelry. They couldn't. So I started with five pieces two years ago."

Alfonso's line has gotten so big that she will debut a new collection tomorrow at Bloomingdale's on 59th St., noon-5 p.m.

"We're launching signature pieces like the Hope pendant," she says, citing the pieces she names after her character as her faves. "Let's face it - Hope is the best-dressed detective on TV."

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