Saturday, August 23, 2008 6:09 AM EST | By Errol Lewis

Sony Produces Best Soap Not on TV

After firing the writing teams of “Days of our Lives” and “The Young and the Restless” during the infamous Writer’s Strike earlier this year, Sony Pictures Television, producer of both soaps, continues to house power struggles behind-the-scenes between executives and writers at the top ranked daytime soap operas. Is it any wonder why fans call the series of events the best drama not on TV?

February 2008 will not only go down as the end of the first writer’s strike in nearly 20 years, but it will also go down as a time when striking writers learned whether they’d have a job to come home to, at least if you were a writer for a Sony produced daytime drama series.

On February 2, Soap Opera Network broke the news that Hogan Sheffer and the majority of his writing team were fired from NBC’s “Days of our Lives.” Then, on February 13, CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” handed out pink slips to its head writer and Executive Producer, Lynn Marie Latham, her husband Bernard Lechowick, and key members of her writing team. Immediately after the “Days of our Lives” firings, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) got involved and questioned the legalities of whether or not the studio and its co-owner of “DAYS,” Corday Productions, Inc., were able to release their writers while they were on strike. While no news had come out about how the WGA was handling that situation at the time, it is clear, however, that they are involved now. The reason? Dena Higley.

If you have ever come across a “DAYS” message board and saw postings about the quality of the show, you’d probably come to realize that Dena Higley is quite possibly the most hated writer in daytime. Yes, she even beats mob lover, Robert Guza Jr (Head Writer, “General Hospital”).

Higley, 49, got her start as Associate Head Writer at “Days of our Lives” in 1985, a position she held for 18 years. She was named Head Writer in 2003. In 2004, she left the show only to join ABC’s “One Life to Live” as its Head Writer. She was later fired in June 2007 after disastrous storylines angered fans and the soap started hitting record lows in the Nielsen ratings. Later that year she came back to “DAYS” as Co-Head Writer alongside Hogan Sheffer. During the Writer’s Strike, however, Higley was outed by former Soap Opera Weekly Editor, Carolyn Hinsey, as going Fi-Core. “Fi-Core” is short for “financial core,” in which WGA membership is reduced to its core necessities such as the inability to vote in elections, hold a seat on the board, or have any say in how the guild conducts its business. A writer that partakes in such activity will never be able to return to full guild privileges for however long they shall live. Sure sounds like a broken marriage agreement, no?

Hinsey’s claims were validated when actor James Reynolds (who plays Abe Carver on the soap) was quoted by TV Guide Canada‘s Nelson Branco in saying “Dena is our head writer,” and that he’d been enjoying her work, “especially the episodes that are airing now.” His comments were notable at the time as Dena had not received writing credit on the show, though her husband Mark Christopher Higley and friend Victor Gialanella did elect to go “Fi-Core.” Higley was named Head Writer shortly after the strike was over. According to sources, since the end of the strike, the WGA has been investigating claims as to whether Higley did indeed go “Fi-Core.” Also at the end of the strike, after a two-year absence, Rick Draughon returned to the show as a Script Writer. On June 1, it was revealed that he had been bumped up to Co-Head Writer with Dena, while Gialanella was demoted to Script Editor.

As the height of the summer season approached, word broke out that “DAYS” Executive Producer Ed Scott and an unnamed “diva” were re-writing Higley’s scripts and telling everyone they were in charge of the show. This claim was also made of Josh Griffith, Executive Producer of “The Young and the Restless,” of Head Writer Maria Arena Bell’s scripts. Griffith, Bell and Paula Cwikly were all revealed to have gone “Fi-Core” during the strike. Hogan Sheffer, who himself also went “Fi-Core” during the strike, but at “DAYS”, was named Co-Head Writer of “Y&R” in May. Recently rumors were circulating that Josh Griffith had been fired, however, a “Y&R” rep denies those claims.

It has been speculated that Higley, angered with the working environment she was placed in, went to the Writer’s Guild and asked them to intervene. The WGA was said to have issued a cease and desist letter to the show. On Friday, August 15, Ed Scott was fired and replaced by former “One Life to Live” Executive Producer and onetime “DAYS” Head Writer, Gary Tomlin. On August 22, Soap Opera Network once again broke news that Tomlin had hired Christopher Whitesell as another Co-Head Writer for “DAYS.”

Now the question remains, how many head writers does it take to end this never ending storyline where one woman holds so much power at NBC’s sole daytime soap opera, before fans do not recognize their show by refusing to watch and NBC cancels the 43 year-old show in favor of cheaper programming? The only one who knows that answer is Ken Corday, owner of the soap, who is currently said to be paying off the remainder of James E. Reilly and Hogan Sheffer’s contracts, which were interrupted after their respective firings by Corday himself.

Seriously Sony, get your act together. If only the drama on screen was as juicy as the one going on behind-the-scenes, you’d find yourself with daytime’s #1 drama…oh wait, “Y&R” already holds that title. Maybe “DAYS” could bump up to #2? One can dream!

This is Errol Lewis…Keeping you Wired.

Correction (9:48 AM ET): Hinsey “outed” Higley as a “scab” writer, not a “Fi-Core” writer as mentioned in the article above. A “scab” is one who unofficially crosses the picket line during a strike and chooses to work for the party a union is rallying against. When someone chooses “Fi-Core” they are officially informing their union that they have chosen to work, instead of striking with other union members.

  • The Young and the Restless
  • Days of our Lives
  • Ed Scott
  • Ken Corday
  • Gary Tomlin
  • Christopher Whitesell
  • Carolyn Hinsey
  • Josh Griffith
  • Dena Higley
  • Sony Pictures Television

    Needed: Various Positions

    Friday, August 22, 2008 10:00 PM ET | By Errol Lewis

    ( — As we approach our 7th year online in October, Soap Opera Network is looking toward the future and has come up with an aggressive plan to “Bringing.Drama.Closer” than ever before to the fans of daytime and prime soap operas. In order to do this, we need individuals who would like to cover the following soap operas and provide visitors with news, previews and interviews with today’s biggest and brightest stars:

    • 90210
    • The Bold and the Beautiful
    • Brothers & Sisters
    • Desperate Housewives
    • Dirty Sexy Money
    • Days of our Lives
    • Gossip Girl
    • Grey’s Anatomy
    • Guiding Light
    • One Tree Hill
    • Private Practice
    • Ugly Betty

    Show Editors will be required to provide up-to-date News and Previews for their respective show.

    Soap Opera Network is also looking for episode recappers for the daytime soaps.

    If you are interested in any position, please contact me at [email protected]. In your subject line, please indicate which show or area you are interested in covering. A writing sample should be attached in your email.

    Note: At this time all available positions are based on a volunteer basis only.

    • Soap Opera Network

      Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

      Emmy Rossum went from “Law & Order” to “As The World Turns” (ex-Abigail Williams) and now is starring in “Dragonball,” the film adaptation to the popular “Dragonball” anime series.

      “Dragonball” tells the story of Goku (played by Justin Chatwin), a warrior set out to save the universe from iminent danger. He seeks to locate the seven magical orbs known as the Dragon Balls, which together will help summon the Shenron dragon, who will grant a single wish to the one that summons him.

      Rossum (right, picured with Chatwin) will play Bulma, a girl who aids Goku on his quest after her father’s dragonball is stolen from Lord Piccolo (played by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actor James Marsters). Joining her will be “The Bold and the Beautiful’s” Texas Battle as Carey Fuller, a bully in the film. Battle’s character was specifically written into the film for storyline purposes.

      Rounding out the cast are Jamie Chung as Chi-Chi, Chow Yun-Fat as Master Roshi, Joon Park as Yamcha, Eriko Tamura as Mai, Luis Arrieta as Weaver, Randall Duk Kim as Granpa Gohan, Ernie Hudson as Master Mutaito, and Shavon Kirksey as Emi.

      The $100 million budgeted “Dragonball” is a production of 20th Century Fox and is set for release on Friday, April 3, 2009.

      Friday, August 22, 2008 9:14 PM ET | By Errol Lewis

      ( — Matthew Borlenghi is expected to shake things up next month on the NBC drama series “Days of our Lives,” when he joins the cast as the Mayor of Salem.

      Beginning Thursday, September 18, look for Borlenghi to shock Salem citizens, as his character Mayor Marino, with news that…oh wait, I can’t tell you…yet! Just know that you’ll definitely be in for a surprise.

      Borlenghi is best known for playing Brian Bodine, Hayley’s (Kelly Ripa) love interest, on ABC’s “All My Children, and Ziggy Deadmarsh on CBS’ “The Bold and the Beautiful.” This year the actor co-wrote the film “Jack Rio” with Sean Kanan (“The Bold and the Beautiful” and “General Hospital”) and the films Director/Producer, Gregori J. Martin. Released in June, the film was about a TV actor needing to find himself, but finding a serial killer in his way is not what he expected. His other credits include stints in Showtime’s “Dexter” and CBS’ “Without a Trace.”

      In other “Days of our Lives” news, Terrell Tilford returns as Dr. Carrington on Friday, September 5. Ross Matthews appears as Kate’s assistant, Chris, on Tuesday, September 9, and Freda Foh Shen joins the cast as Eleanor Thomas starting Thursday, September 18.

      Look for Roscoe Born to make a dramatic exit at the end of September as his character departs the “DAYS” canvas. His departure is said to be storyline dictated, according to sources.

      “Days of our Lives” airs Weekdays on NBC. Weeknight on SOAPnet. Anytime on iTunes. Check local listings.

      • The Bold and the Beautiful
      • All My Children
      • Days of our Lives
      • Kelly Ripa
      • General Hospital
      • Roscoe Born
      • Matthew Borlenghi
      • Terrell Tilford
      • Ross Matthews
      • Freda Foh Shen

        Fixation Magazine

        ( — Real-life couple Nadia Bjorlin and Brandon Beemer grace cover of Fixation Magazine’s August issue.

        “Days of Our Lives” beauty Bjorlin (Chloe Lane) and her handsome former co-star and real-life boyfriend, Beemer (ex-Shawn D. Brady, “Days of Our Lives;” Owen Knight, “The Bold and the Beautiful”) are featured in a cover story in the magazine’s 9th issue since its launch in December 2007. The duo posed for some action-packed themed shots where one can imagine what they’d look like in the next great blockbuster movie. Can we say “Mr. and Mrs. Smith 2″ starring these two?

        Fixation is a lifestyle monthly magazine that brings readers the latest events, fashion trends, entertainment options, beauty tips, health guides, and what’s happening in the social scene all around Los Angeles, CA.

        The magazine is on newstands now, so if you are in the area don’t forget to check it out.

        On the web:

        Friday, August 22, 2008 6:27 PM ET | By Xavier Toups

        ( — Gary Tomlin makes his first executive decision.

        Soap Opera Network has learned that newly appointed “Days Of Our Lives” Executive Producer Gary Tomlin has brought in Christopher Whitesell as Co-Head Writer. Whitesell will serve along side Dena Higley, the show’s current Head Writer.

        This will now be the third time Whitesell has worked as Co-Head Writer for Gary Tomlin. The previous two times were at “Sunset Beach” with Meg Bennett (from late 1997 to 1998), then Margaret De Priest (from 1998 to the show’s finale on December 31, 1999), and “One Life To Live” with Lorraine Broderick (from 2001 to 2002).

        He was also Co-Head Writer at “General Hospital” with Janet Iacobuzio (in 1997) and “As The World Turns” with Jean Passanante and Leah Laiman (from 2005 to 2007). His other writing credits include “Another World” and “Guiding Light.”

        Whitesell previously served as a writer at “DAYS” from 2000 to 2001.

        “Days of our Lives” airs Weekdays on NBC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Anytime on iTunes. Check local listings.

        • One Life to Live
        • Days of our Lives
        • General Hospital
        • Gary Tomlin
        • Christopher Whitesell

          Thursday, August 21, 2008 10:55 PM ET | By Errol Lewis

          ( — I’ve always thought that if you put on quality television with good writing combined with great acting, you’d find yourself well positioned for growth in the Nielsen Ratings. NBCs “Days of our Lives” proved just that during the week of August 11, 2008, when it moved up to 3rd place in the Nielsen rankings, pulling a 2.4/8 in households. Oh, wait…the Olympics were on. Never mind.

          With the Summer 2008 Beijing Olympic games as a lead-in, “Days of our Lives” was able to bring in 500,000 more households than they had the week prior, and 400,000 more than at the same point last year. Similarly, 3.1 million viewers tuned into the soap, which was an increase of 629,000 viewers over last week and 514,000 more than last year. The soap was also able to reclaim the #1 position in the coveted Women 18-34 demographic with a 1.1/7, a position it has not held in sometime. While all soaps were up in Girl viewers aged 12-17, “DAYS” was able to place second behind only “One Life to Live” (70,000 viewers vs 72,000) in the demo, which was an increase of 25,000 viewers from last week.

          ABC’s “All My Children” once again hit series lows as it fell to 6th place in households (tie with “As The World Turns”) with a 1.8/6. Only 2.4 million viewers tuned in to see what was happening in Pine Valley, a mere 200,000 viewer advantage over daytime’s lowest rated drama “Guiding Light.” “Light” placed 8th among all soap operas with a 1.6/5 in households and 2.2 million viewers, a massive decline of 400,000 viewers from last year.

          Overall “The Young and the Restless” lost the most viewers year-over-year with 5.1 million viewers, a decline of 469,000 from last year. “The Bold and the Beautiful” lost the least amount of viewers year-over-year with 3.5 million viewers, a decline of just 135,000 viewers.

          ABC Daytime handed over the title of biggest loser among the big three networks to CBS, as the network lost just 1 million viewers combined year-to-year, while CBS lost 1.3 million.

          The following is the final ratings report for the Week of August 11, 2008:

          HOUSEHOLD RANK/SHARE (change last week/last year)

            1. Y&R 3.6/12 (-.1/-.5)

            2. B&B 2.5/8 (-.1/-.2)

            3. DAYS 2.4/8 (+.5/+.4)

            4. GH 2.2/7 (+.1/-.2)

            5. OLTL 1.9/6 (same/-.4) < ------- ties low rating

            6. ATWT 1.8/6 (-.1/-.3)

            6. AMC 1.8/6 (-.1/-.4) < --------- new low rating

            8. GL 1.6/5 (same/-.4)

          TOTAL VIEWERS (change last week/last year)

            1. Y&R 5,054,000 (+1,000/-469,000)

            2. B&B 3,471,000 (-110,000/-135,000)

            3. DAYS 3,109,000 (+629,000/+514,000)

            4. GH 2,871,000 (+203,000/-228,000)

            5. OLTL 2,548,000 (+28,000/-364,000)

            6. ATWT 2,536,000 (-91,000/-302,000)

            7. AMC 2,374,000 (-91,000/-437,000)

            8. GL 2,234,000 (-69,000/-407,000)

          WOMEN 18-49 RATING (change last week/last year)

            1. Y&R 1.7/11 (+.1/same)

            2. GH 1.4/9 (+.2/-.2)

            3. DAYS 1.3/8 (+.3/-.1)

            4. OLTL 1.2/7 (same/-.2)

            5. AMC 1.1/7 (same/-.1)

            5. B&B 1.1/7 (same/same)

            7. ATWT 0.9/6 (-.1/-.1)

            7. GL 0.9/5 (same/-.2) < -------- ties low rating

          WOMEN 18-49 VIEWERS (change last week/last year)

            1. Y&R 1,101,000 (+36,000/-45,000)

            2. GH 928,000 (+124,000/-98,000)

            3. DAYS 827,000 (+169,000/-81,000)

            4. OLTL 773,000 (-17,000/-145,000)

            5. AMC 729,000 (-22,000/-68,000)

            6. B&B 722,000 (-14,000/-20,000)

            7. ATWT 617,000 (-21,000/-34,000)

            8. GL 577,000 (-13,000/-154,000)

          GIRL 12-17 VIEWERS (change last week/last year)

            1. OLTL 72,000 (+21,000/+33,000)

            2. DAYS 70,000 (+25,000/+4,000)

            2. AMC 70,000 (+19,000/+26,000)

            4. Y&R 67,000 (+35,000/-34,000)

            5. B&B 64,000 (+48,000/+9,000)

            6. ATWT 53,000 (+36,000/+2,000)

            7. GH 48,000 (+18,000/-4,000)

            8. GL 46,000 (+26,000/-3,000)

          WOMEN 18-34 RATING (change last week/last year)

            1. DAYS 1.1/7 (+.4/-.3)

            2. GH 1.0/6 (+.3/-.1)

            3. Y&R 0.9/6 (same/-.2)

            4. OLTL 0.8/5 (same/-.2)

            5. AMC 0.7/4 (same/-.2)

            6. ATWT 0.5/3 (same/-.2)

            6. B&B 0.5/3 (-.1/-.3)

            8. GL 0.4/2 (same/-.4)

          MEN 18+ VIEWERS (change last week/last year)

            1. Y&R 1,242,000 (+12,000/-109,000)

            2. DAYS 801,000 (+313,000/+335,000)

            3. B&B 795,000 (-13,000/-40,000)

            4. GH 527,000 (+29,000/-83,000)

            5. ATWT 522,000 (-16,000/-75,000)

            6. GL 462,000 (same/-64,000)

            7. OLTL 453,000 (-10,000/-91,000)

            8. AMC 439,000 (-72,000/-130,000)

            Source: NTI, Live + Same Day

          Thursday, August 21, 2008 7:46 PM ET | By Errol Lewis

          ( — Openly Gay Actor and activist, Chad Allen, 34, is joining the cast of the SOAPnet Original Series, “General Hospital: Night Shift” as a love interest for Dr. Kyle Julian (Adam Grimes).

          Allen will portray Eric Whitlow , a patient needing a liver transplant who arrives at General Hospital seeking medical attention. He is assisted by Dr. Julian, a gay medical intern, and the two form a romantic relationship as they work together in finding Eric a suitable donor. The actor joins the primetime soap on Tuesday, September 23 for three episodes.

          “We’re delighted to have Chad join our show because, not only is he a remarkable actor, he’s also an amazing activist. For years I have been inspired by Chad and welcome the honesty and authenticity that he will bring to our show,” said head writer Sri Rao.

          Allen is best known for his role as Matthew Cooper in the CBS series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” in the early 1990′s. He has also appeared in “NYPD Blue,” “Criminal Minds” and “St. Elsewhere.” He can currently be seen in the here! original television movies “Third Man Out,” “Shock to the System” and “On the Other Hand,” a series of films based on the popular Donald Strachey Mystery novels by Richard Stevenson about a gay private detective in Albany, NY. He will star in the next chapter, “Death and Ice Blues,” which is set for release later this year.

          “General Hospital: Night Shift” airs Tuesdays on SOAPnet. Mondays on DirecTV’s The 101. Check local listings.

          • General Hospital: Night Shift
          • Chad Allen

            Thursday, August 21, 2008 7:03 PM ET | By Errol Lewis

            ( — Roscoe Born is out at NBC’s “Days of our Lives.”

            As we first reported to you on our message boards earlier this week, Roscoe Born is leaving the soap this fall due to storyline purposes. Born joined the series in May 2008 as Trent Robbins, Max Brady’s (Darin Brooks) biological father.

            A “Days of our Lives” spokeswoman was able to confirm the actors departure and informed Soap Opera Network that “Roscoe will continue to have story well into the end of September.”

            According to sources, Born’s firing is unrelated to the firing of Ed Scott, who was replaced by Gary Tomlin on Friday, August 15.

            Prior to his work on “Days of our Lives,” Born had starring roles on all current daytime soap operas with the exception of “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “General Hospital.” He has also appeared in such shows as “Murder, She Wrote” and “Six Million Dollar Man.” He starred in the film “Powwow Highway” along-side “One Life to Live” bound A. Martinez.

            “Days of our Lives” airs Weekdays on NBC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Anytime on iTunes. Check local listings.

            • Days of our Lives
            • Roscoe Born

              ‘Rock the Soap Cruise’

              Thursday, August 21, 2008 10:27 AM ET | By Errol Lewis

              ( — What does Bradford, Ricky, Kassie, Jason, Kimberly, Bryan, Van, Rebecca and Bob all have in common?

              Well, if you saw the image at the right-hand side of this article, you’ve probably guessed…they are all part of the newest soap cruise, which allows fans the opportunity to get closer to their favorite daytime stars than ever before.

              For four days and three wonderful nights, fans will get the chance to spend time with their favorite stars from all of daytime television including Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, “General Hospital”), Brandon Barash (Johnny, “General Hospital”), Kathy Brier (Marcie, “One Life to Live”), Rebecca Budig (Greenlee, “All My Children”), Bryan Dattilo (Lucas, “Days of our Lives”), Kassie DePaiva (Blair, “One Life to Live”), Bobbie Eakes (Krystal, “All My Children”), Ricky Paull Goldin (Jake, “All My Children”), Van Hansis (Luke, “As The World Turns”), Susan Haskell (Marty, “One Life to Live”), Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe, “The Young and the Restless”), Thorsten Kaye (Zach, “All My Children”), Thad Luckinbill (JT, “The Young and the Restless”), Constantine Maroulis (Constantine, “The Bold and the Beautiful”), Kimberly McCullough (Robin, “General Hospital”), Alicia Minshew (Kendall, “All My Children”), Kelly Monaco (Sam, “General Hospital”), Eden Riegel (Eden, “Imaginary Bitches”), Greg Rikaart (Kevin, “The Young and the Restless”), Jake Silbermann (Noah, “As The World Turns”), Aiden Turner (Aidan, “All My Children”), Bree Williamson (Jessica, “One Life to Live”), Jason Thompson (Patrick, “General Hospital”), and Bob Guiney (“The Bachelor”). Ok, so Bob isn’t a daytime soap star, but he is married to one (Budig).

              Setting sail on Friday, March 20, 2009 to Ensenada, Mexico, the “Rock the Soap Cruise” not only gives fans a chance to mingle with their favorites, they’ll also get complimentary meals, full use of cruise facilities, 24-hour room service and nothing but ocean water and cool breeze. Ship of choice is courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines.

              Events include:

              * Rock The Soap Cruise Welcome Cocktail Party with open bar

              * Rock The Soap Party with DJ Aiden Turner

              * Rock The Soap Talk Show with celebrity interviews, clips and stories

              * Rock The Soap Meet and Greet Session with all your favorites

              * Rock The Soap Fantasy Camp where fans act out scenes with celebs

              * Rock The Soap Trivia Contest with special prizes

              * Rock The Soap Concert with your favorite soap stars & Bob Guiney Band

              * Rock The Soap Karaoke Contest and Duets with your favorite stars

              * Rock The Soap Farewell Cocktail Party with open bar

              * All events hosted by TV Personality Bob Guiney

              * Full Access to all of Carnival’s activities and facilities!

              * Chances to enter other onboard drawings for exclusive Rock The Soap Events!

              The first 300 passengers will receive VIP Breakfast with the Stars, and will be entered in a special drawing to receive front row tickets to the Rock The Soap Concert.

              To get more information on how to purchase tickets and see a cool introductory video produced by Bob Guiney, go to

              • Bradford Anderson
              • Rock the Soap Cruise