STEP RIGHT UP: Christian signed hundreds of autographs in Niles on Sunday.


CELEBRITY SHOT: "Days of Our Lives" actor Shawn Christian poses with fan Judith McNear of Niles at Eastwood Field while McNear's friend Charles Benchia of Warren snaps a picture.

By Amanda C. Davis

For fans, soap star sparkles in appearance at Niles mall

The actor from Michigan played Jennifer Aniston’s doctor on the sitcom ‘Friends.’

NILES — Where else can you find complicated love triangles, plot twists that involve characters coming back from the dead and decades-long vendettas between rival families?

If you’re Shawn Christian, it’s all in a day’s work.

The hunky soap opera star, who’s enjoyed a varied acting career, plays Dr. Daniel Jonas, a world-renowned surgeon, on NBC’s “Days of Our Lives.” His character came to the fictitious Salem in March to help character Bo, whose pancreas was failing.

Dr. Jonas, credited with saving Bo’s life, is embroiled in a steamy plot with romantic ties to Bo’s daughter, Chelsea, and Chelsea’s grandmother, Kate.

During a promotional visit Sunday at Eastwood Mall, Christian told The Vindicator about an upcoming plot twist that involves another character, Nicole, played by Arianne Zuker.

Though he said he wasn’t yet sure of the details, he did say his character will share “an interlude” with Nicole in a bar.

Hundreds of people — mostly women — stood in line for the chance to meet Christian, get an autographed picture and snap photos during the event, sponsored by the mall and WFMJ/WBCB.

Jack Stevenson, the stations’ marketing manager, said WFMJ usually brings a soap star to the Canfield Fair each year but that Sunday’s event replaces that.

Ted and Shelley Krueger made the trek from Greenville, Pa., and arrived about two hours early to make it to the front of the line.

The husband and wife said they tape the show each day while at work and watch it together in the evenings or on weekends.

Ted Krueger said he likes Christian’s character but watches more for Sami Brady, played by Alison Sweeney. Sami is married to E.J. Wells, a member of the DiMera crime family.

“I would give anything to be a DiMera for a day,” he said.

Marilyn Sorber of Warren has watched “Days” since it started in 1965 and waited in line with granddaughter Bethany York, 17, of Champion while her daughter, Lori York, took pictures.

“Oh my gosh, I am so excited,” Sorber said after meeting Christian. “I was so nervous when I met him.”

Lisa Jacon of Cortland said she was out with friends Saturday night when they saw Christian sitting by himself at The Chophouse, part of the Avalon Inn in Warren, where he was staying.

The real estate agent for GMAC said she invited him to join the group at Up A Creek tavern in Howland for some dancing.

“He’s a very good dancer,” she said, explaining that he was friendly and a perfect gentleman.

Cindy Pallo of Austintown said she has watched since she was 14 and called Christian both “handsome” and “just so normal.”

Christian, a Grand Rapids, Mich., native, graduated from Michigan’s Ferris State University with a degree in marketing before relocating to Chicago where he honed his acting skills at the improvisational company “Improv Olympics.”

Christian’s acting credits include soap opera “As the World Turns,” made-for-TV movies and guest-starring spots on sitcoms including “Crossing Jordan,” “Charmed,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Spin City,” “Will & Grace,” “Becker” and “Boston Legal.” He also played Jennifer Aniston’s gynecologist on “Friends,” one of the roles he said he is often recognized for.

Christian also had a supporting role in Eddie Murphy’s new film for 20th Century Fox, “Meet Dave.” He lives in LA with his wife and son.

Christian said he likes the Warren area because it reminds him of his boyhood home in Michigan with “nice cool nights,” and added that he enjoyed Saturday night’s rain.

He also stars in the Lifetime Movie Network’s “Murder in the Hamptons,” based on a true story of millionaire businessman Ted Ammon, who winds up dead. His ex-wife, Generosa Rand (Poppy Montgomery), is linked to the murder, and Christian plays her boyfriend, Danny Pelosi, who is ultimately convicted of the murder.

“I am always playing the bad guy,” Christian joked.

Sisters Darlene and Gloria Echols, both in their 30s, said they’ve watched the show since the 1980s and enjoyed meeting Christian, whom they described as “down to earth.”

“I told him, ‘The show got even better when you came on it,’” Gloria said.

Emcee Kelin Bannon, who does promotions for the Valley’s CW and is a disc jockey on Hot 101, worked the crowd, asking if anyone felt like they were going to pass out in anticipation of meeting Christian.

“I’m a doctor,” he shouted. “It’s OK.”

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