NBC

(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — How one November day turned “Days of our Lives” into a place for the sinking job market.

After NBC made it clear to Executive Producer Ken Corday, and his Corday Productions banner along with Sony Pictures Television, that they would only renew “Days of our Lives” beyond its March 2009 contract expiration if the show found ways to cut costs. It did, and now some of daytime’s biggest stars are now without jobs and the faces of daytime continue to get unfamiliar.

Deidre Hall (ex-Marlena Evans) and Drake Hogestyn (ex-John Black) were the first “DAYS” stars to receive their walking papers just weeks after NBC made their demands. They last aired on January 23.

Recently, it was announced that Stephen Nichols, Mary Beth Evans and Thaao Penghlis were each given their walking papers as well. Nichols and Evans, who portrayed super-couple Patch and Kayla on the drama series, last aired on Tuesday, February 17.

“They’re not leaving Salem. They’re not dying. They’re just not going to be on the air. You might see one or both of them pop up on other episodes, but it’s not going to be a significant exit,” said Corday.

A last airdate for Penghlis and his Tony DiMera character was not made available at press time, but he last tapes on Wednesday, March 4, according to the February 24 issue of Soap Opera Digest.

“I’ve spent over 20 years on that show, and a producer from ‘Passions’ came in with a vision, and all I can say is I’m in good company,” he says.

While she wasn’t fired, actress Rachel Melvin (Chelsea Brady) has opted to not renew her contract with the soap, which was set to expire this Spring.

“I have been with ‘Days of our Lives’ for the past four years of my life. I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity Ken Corday has given me, and for the growth and education I have obtained from such a hard working group of people,” said Melvin in a statement via her online blog. “At this juncture in my life however, I feel I’ve accomplished and learned all I could have from ‘DAYS,’ and it’s just time to experience new things.”

A last airdate for the actress has not been announced.

Can we expect more cast cuts and changes for “Days of our Lives?” According to Corday, “We’re done.”

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