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In its continuing effort to reclaim its glory days, NBC's Days of our Lives has lured Lisa Rinna back to Salem to reprise her role as Billie Reed. In fact, she's the latest in a line of 90's-era stars that the show has enticed back into the fold.
In September, Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn returned as the show's iconic couple, Marlena Evans and John Black, and Patrick Muldoon reprised his role as the hunky Austin Reed. Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, they've managed to convince Rinna to return to the role she held from 1992 through 2005.
Back in October, a source close to the show told The Huffington Post that Rinna -- who's done stints on reality shows like Dancing With the Stars and The Celebrity Apprentice -- would be "doing a James Franco." (That is, returning to the soap where she got her start.) "There is something full circle about bringing her back to the role that made her famous and now harnessing her celebrity to secure the future of the show," the insider said.
It's all part of a strategy to stem the tide of declining ratings that's washed over several other soaps. All My Children and One Life to Live may have been cancelled, but Days' producers obviously want to avert that fate. "They are determined to make sure the show not only survives but thrives," said the source. "Part of the strategy is bringing out the big guns, which includes bringing back Lisa Rinna and Billie Reed."
With her first episode slated for March 8, Billie will be reacquainted with her old flame, Bo Brady (Peter Reckell). Of course, Bo is still (at the moment) half of the show's signature super couple, Bo and Hope Williams Brady (Kristian Alfonso). How will Rinna's return affect that relationship?
No word on that yet, but here's a clue: according to The Hollywood Reporter story, "network officials confirm that she will share 'explosive' scenes with on-screen mother Kate (Lauren Koslow) and her former flame, Bo." Even Reckell himself doesn't seem to know the specifics, though. "I think [the writers] will handle this in a way that will be interesting to play," Reckell told About.com.
But will the show's longtime fans embrace the return of Billie if it means a Bo/Hope rupture? That could be a tough sell. Then again, if anyone can win them over, Rinna can.