When we reported that Marlene McPherson (pictured right, with former “DAYS” co-head writer Darrell Ray Thomas) had been hired on as head writer of Prospect Park’s version of “All My children” back on January 23, it was unclear at the time as to whether she would be joined by a co-head writer. Soap Opera Network has since learned that it’ll be a “Days of our Lives” reunion of sorts for “AMC” as McPherson will be joined by Elizabeth Snyder, who was an Associate Head Writer at “DAYS” from 2011-2012.
On Tuesday, January 22, Prospect Park provided soap fans with casting, writing and production updates for its soaps “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” While the company officially confirmed that Susie Bedsow Horgan and Thom Racina would be helming “OLTL,” the status of who’d be leading “AMC” remained unclear. Today, Soap Opera Network can confirm that former “Days of our Lives” Head Writer Marlene McPherson has been named Head Writer of Prospect Park’s online version of “All My Children.”
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — With news of Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell‘s ascension to the top of the “Days of our Lives” writing team after the NBC daytime soap let go Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas, Jr., less than a year after the two were hired to replace Dena Higley, Soap Opera Digest in its newest issue (issue dated April 16, 2012) is reporting that Tomlin and Whitesell has added the multiple Emmy award winning talents of veteran writer Lorraine Broderick to its new regime.
Broderick, who most recently enjoyed a stint at ABC’s “One Life to Live” as a breakdown writer shortly after penning the final months of “All My Children” as the soaps head writer – she was hired at “AMC” just days before the network officially announced it had decided to cancel both soaps with “Children” going off the air in September 2011 and “One Life” completing its run in January 2012 - joins “DAYS” in the same position she had at “One Life to Live” until its final episodes were written. “We are excited and look forward to the stories of romance, suspense and intrigue this new dream team plans to tell,” Co-Executive Producer Greg Meng said via Digest.
Broderick’s long career in daytime television as a writer began more than three decades ago when she was hired on as a script writer at “All My Children” in 1979. She held that position until 1981, when she was named Associate Head Writer. She would begin a short stint as the soaps Co-Head Writer in 1987, but would revert back to her former position as Associate Head Writer beginning in 1988 until 1991. She left “AMC” for “Guiding Light” beginning in 1992, where she was hired once again as an Associate Head Writer (1992-1993). After leaving “GL,” Broderick would find herself at numerous daytime soaps in various capacities including the role of Head Writer and/or Associate Head Writer at “Another World,” “As The World Turns,” “One Life to Live” and “Port Charles.”
Before marking her return to “DAYS” later this year, Broderick was previously credited as Head Writer of the soap for just one month (October 1999).
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Exclusive! Soap Opera Network has learned that “Days Of our Lives” has fired Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas, Jr. as its co-head writers and replaced them with Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell.
McPherson and Thomas were hired in May 2011, replacing Dena Higley, to help shepherd the “DAYS” reboot (the returns of fan favorites Drake Hogestyn, Deidre Hall, Patrick Muldoon, Christie Clark and Matthew Ashford). Unfortunately, the ratings did not improve and the show recently hit a new low in Women 18-49 Viewers with just 496,000 total tuning in from that ratings category for the week March 19-23, 2012.
Tomlin returns to “DAYS” after being the Co-Executive Producer from September 17, 2008 – September 2, 2011 (on air episode dates) . This will be Tomlin’s first head writing gig in about 27 years – he was Head Writer of “Another World” in the mid-80′s. Though he was an interim Head Writer for “One Life To Live” (on air episodes dates: February 1, 2008 – May 1, 2008) during the 2007-2008 Writers Strike.
Whitesell also returns to the show after being Co-Head Writer from October 13, 2008 – June 13, 2011 (on air episode dates). This will be Whitesell’s 6th Co-Head Writing stint: he co-head wrote for “General Hospital” (1997), “Sunset Beach” (1998 – 1999), “One Life To Live” (2001-2003), “As The World Turns” (2005-2007). Whitesell was writing breakdowns for “The Young and The Restless” for the past year.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Yesterday afternoon, Soap Opera Digest reported that “General Hospital” has named breakdown writer Shelly Altman as its Co-Head Writer working alongside Head Writer Garin Wolf. Per the magazine’s website Altman’s new role is effective immediately.
In July, Soap Opera Network first reported on Altman’s move to “General Hospital” after 11 years at ABC’s “One Life to Live.” At the time Altman was joined by Tracey Thomson on the breakdown team replacing Meg Bennett and David Goldschmid, who were both fired following the termination of Bennett’s husband Robert Guza, Jr., who Wolf replaced back in May.
Before joining “One Life to Live” in 1999 as an Associate Head Writer, Altman worked at NBC’s “Another World” from 1995-1999 in the same position. She received five Daytime Emmy Award nominations in the category of Outstanding Writing Team. Her last four nominations being at “OLTL” (2002, 2006, 2008 and 2009) and her first at “AW” (1996). Altman won the award in 2008 while at “OLTL” under the writing team headed up by Ron Carlivati and Dena Higley.
In July 2010, Altman wrote a blog for The Writers Guild of America East which can be viewed here.
As Soap Opera Network went to press, a “GH” representative was unavailable for comment.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — It was Thursday, May 19 when word broke that Dena Higley was out as head writer of “Days of our Lives” and former “Passions” Associate Head Writers, Darrell Ray Thomas and Marlene McPherson were in. Since the announcement, a lot has been speculated, talked about and dissected by anxious fans waiting to get some ounce of news on what they can expect to see when “Days of our Lives” relaunches itself this September. On Thursday, July 28, Soap Opera Network visited the Burbank set that houses “DAYS” in studios 2 and 4 and talked with the shows new head writers outside of the now defunct Salem Place set about what fans can expect when their material debuts on Monday, September 26. The duo also give us a scoop on what the Friday, September 23 show that precedes their official debut is all about.
Side Note: Please pardon the wind, it wasn’t something we could control. Also, yes we are aware that Marlene’s name was misspelled in the intro part of the video. We’re working on trying to correct this ASAP. Thanks for understanding!
After weeks of reported firings, hirings and rumors, NBC’s “Days of our Lives” is breaking its silence. In a press release issued to Soap Opera Network, the program has outlined a series of changes that will be reflected on screen beginning in September that includes highlighting romance and the faces of beloved characters once more. Behind the scenes changes include the hiring of “Passions” scribes Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas and naming Noel Maxam and Greg Meng as Co-Executive Producers. The duo replace Gary Tomlin, who was fired last week. The behind the scenes changes are effective immediately.
“It’s time to make a more positive, romantic, and intriguing show driven by the power of heroic love. I’m very excited about the new adventure we are about to take which is based on the show that my parents created 45 years ago,” said Ken Corday, Executive Producer and owner of the daytime drama series.
“‘Days of our Lives’” initiated a strong direction of change by appointing a new head writing team consisting of Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas. The successful writing duo plan to change the direction of the show as they tell contemporary stories based on the solid foundation of the ‘DAYS’ history of family, romance, and intrigue,” the press release stated. According to McPherson and Thomas, “New fans will find many reasons to stay, and longtime fans will find many reasons to return.”
The big changes taking place this fall begins with a grand event, which was expected as McPherson recently tweeted “The excitement is building! Huge party with many surprises the week of 9/26! You are all invited! We promise you won’t be disappointed!”
“The new writing team has already generated much excitement with the compelling stories they have written, and we plan to translate those stories to the screen with a refreshed look,” said Meng, who for over ten years has served as Executive in Charge of Production for the drama series. Before joining “DAYS,” Maxam for his part had a long and successful run at CBS’ “The Young and the Restless.” He began his daytime career with the drama series in 1997 as an Associate Director. He served in this position until 2002, but directed a number of episodes since 1999 until his departure in September 2007 to join “DAYS.” He was named Supervising Producer in late 2008. Both “Y&R” and “DAYS” are co-produced by Sony Pictures Television.
“I am confident these changes will bring back excitement and anticipation to our family of fans as they tune in each day to see what happens,” Corday promised. “You won’t want to miss a single episode of the new ‘DAYS’ ahead!
As previously reported, actors Crystal Chappell (Carly Manning), Louise Sorel (Vivian Alamain), Bren Foster (Quinn Hudson), Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe Lane), Tamara Braun (Taylor Walker), and Francisco San Martin (Dario Hernandez), head writer Dena Higley and co-executive producer Gary Tomlin are OUT! It has been reported that Deidre Hall (Marlena Evans), Drake Hogestyn (John Black) and Matthew Ashford (Jack Deveraux) are IN! Rumored to be joining them in the coming months are Mark Hapka (Nathan Horton), Bryan Datillo (Lucas Horton), Christie Clark (Carrie Brady Reed) and Patrick Muldoon (Austin Reed). Reps for Datillo and Muldoon issued a “no comment.”
It has been three weeks since Ken Corday, Executive Producer and owner of NBC’s “Days of our Lives,” made his first move to save the soap from near oblivion with the firing of Head Writer Dena Higley and replacing her with former “Passions” scribes Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas. In the weeks that followed, soap stars Crystal Chappell (Carly Manning), Louise Sorel (Vivian Alamain), Bren Foster (Quinn Hudson), Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe Lane), Tamara Braun (Taylor Walker), and Francisco San Martin (Dario Hernandez) were all out of jobs. If those changes weren’t enough to signal a revolution heading toward Salem, it was definitely made clear with the firing of Co-Executive Producer Gary Tomlin along with the expected returns of Deidre Hall (Marlena Evans), Drake Hogestyn (John Black), and Matthew Ashford (Jack Deveraux) and the rumored returns of several former cast members including Mark Hapka (Nathan Horton) and Bryan Dattilo (Lucas Horton).
Since receiving word from Jeff Gaspin, the now former Chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment (now NBCUniversal Media), late last year that the network had decided it would renew “Days of our Lives” for two additional years, on top of its previous contract that was set to expire in September 2011, the daytime drama series has been trending downward in the Nielsen ratings. This is in direct contrast to the upward trend the soap had received prior to its renewal. In our interview with Corday back in May of 2010, he laughed when he said that “the show grew 10% in ratings from the previous year, which NBC can’t say about any of their other shows between 2008 and 2009.” Unfortunately, between 2010 and 2011, the drama series is experiencing a downward spiral and it’s no laughing matter.
In the latest ratings released covering the week of May 30, 2011 through June 3, 2011, it was revealed that “DAYS” is down a whopping 17% in Women 18-49 and another 15% in Households season to date (September 20, 2010 through June 3, 2011). Only ABC’s canceled “All My Children” had a bigger loss in Women 18-49 (down 22% season to date) with a much smaller loss in Households (down just 5%). So what can “DAYS” do to turn things around before seasons end? Not much of anything.
Unlike in primetime where scripted television airs mostly in originals from September through May, daytime scripted television airs in originals from September to September, therefore “season to date” would cover from September 20, 2010 through September 16, 2011. Why is this piece of information so important? “Days of our Lives,” now celebrating its 45th anniversary year on television, is currently filming at such a rapid speed that there is literally no way that Higley’s material will stop airing before the official close of this season, or is there?
Days after news broke that Higley was fired, it was announced via Twitter by Judie Henninger, an NBC employee who handles the networks promos for “DAYS,” that 17 episodes scheduled to tape before Higley’s ouster were being rewritten by the shows new writing team. While the tweets have since been deleted, Corday confirmed that Co-Head Writers McPherson and Ray Thomas were rewriting a number of episodes. “We didn’t have to reshoot anything, but we had to rewrite three weeks of shows yet to air and chart a new course,” said Corday in the June 14 issue of Soap Opera Digest when asked if any storylines were being changed. Interestingly enough, in the same response he confirmed that Chandler Massey‘s Will Horton would indeed be portraying the rumored gay character on “DAYS” despite the show itself still not confirming the news to the press directly. “We are telling a story dealing with the first gay character on the show and that had to have another look and the take on that had to be changed. It will be written much more slowly and carefully. It’s a story about one of our characters coming to grips with who he is,” Corday stated.
For her part, McPherson has joined Twitter to bring a voice from the new writing team straight to disgruntled fans who were thrilled to learn that changes were finally happening at their favorite daytime soap. In her first tweet on Saturday, June 4, McPherson said “Writing the first week of “our” shows! So exciting! Don’t miss 9/23!” This was our first indication as to when we could expect the teams material to begin airing, although it doesn’t make it clear if said material was part of the rewritten scripts or if they would be credited for a time prior to this episode as co-heads with Higley (when material is re-written…it remains based on the outline of the original writer leaving credit with said original writer and those that made any changes). While minor details still need to be sorted out, fans should at least expect a big party to kick off a new era for “DAYS.” On Saturday, June 11, McPherson tweeted “The excitement is building! Huge party with many surprises the week of 9/26! You are all invited! We promise you won’t be disappointed!” What are those surprises? You’ll have to tune in to find out of course. Until then, Soap Opera Network has learned exclusively that “Days of our Lives” will outline numerous changes in a press release going out tomorrow that includes the announcement of its new co-executive producer (rumored to be Noel Maxam), the ouster of Gary Tomlin, and the likely announcements of who is returning to the drama series beginning this fall.
Are you ready for better “DAYS?” We sure are!
“Days of our Lives” is a production of Corday Productions Inc., in association with Sony Pictures Television.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — After fifteen years of working in various positions on the “One Life to Live” writing staff, including serving as the show’s head scribe for the last three years, ABC has announced that Ron Carlivati will be joining “General Hospital” as a script writer. The move will fulfill the remainder of the three-year contract Carlivati signed with the network last September. A similar two-year deal was hammered out at the time with “One Life” Executive Producer Frank Valentini.
Despite the timing of the news, “OLTL” fans breath a sigh of relief, however, since Carlivati is not expected to begin his new duties until after the show wraps production sometime in mid-November. “One Life to Live” will air its final episode on January 20, 2012.
Carlivati echoed the sentiment in a press release, saying that “I remain fully committed to Frank Valentini and ‘One Life to Live’ as the show’s Headwriter until the series concludes in January of 2012. It has been my distinct honor to write for Agnes Nixon’s groundbreaking soap opera for the past fifteen years, and it will be with a heavy heart that I, along with my incredibly talented team, pen its finale. At that time, I am happy to announce that I will then be joining the writing team of ‘General Hospital,’ and am thrilled to be working once again with Executive Producer Jill Phelps as well as new Headwriter Garin Wolf.”
Wolf was just named “GH” headwriter last month by Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, upon the firing of the show’s former head scribe Robert Guza, Jr.
The news of Carlivati’s move to the L.A.-based “Hospital,” was broken Thursday by “One Life’s” soon-to-be-departing leading lady Robin Strasser, who tweeted that ” JUST TOLD but NOT told it wuz SECRET: Ron CARLIVATI to #GH as script writer-hopes 2 b co-head writer? Yo,I’m taking heat for leaving early?” Strasser, as we previously reported, is leaving “OLTL” this summer to have back surgery. Her final tape date is Friday, July 1.
Carlivati, along with his writing staff, won a Daytime Emmy in 2008 for their work on “One Life to Live.” He began his daytime career on the soap as a Writer’s Assistant from 1996-1998, before being promoted the the position of Script Writer. In 2001 he was again promoted, this time to the job of Breakdown Writer. In May 2007, he was appointed Co-Head Writer (along with Dena Higley). In September of that year, he was named the show’s sole Head Writer following the network’s dismissal of Higley, where he has continued to serve (minus a brief hiatus during the 2008 Writer’s Strike) in the same capacity.
Click here to read an interview Soap Opera Network did with Carlivati in March of this year, one month before ABC announced the cancellation of “One Life to Live” and sister soap “All My Children.”
EXCLUSIVE: Soap Opera Network has learned the names of soap opera writers who declared “Financial Core” status to keep on working during the strike. By going “Fi-Core,” these writers can never be members of the WGA again but they continue to pay reduced union dues and the Guild is obligated to continue providing services such health insurance, pension and residuals. Though they can still work on Guild projects, Guild members will not be keen to hire them.
Here is the list of “Fi-Core” writers:
- “All My Children”: James Harmon Brown & Barbara Esensten (returned to work in late December)
- “The Bold and The Beautiful”: Kay Alden
- “Days Of Our Lives”: Hogan Sheffer (went “Fi-Core” in early January), Meg Kelly (went “Fi-Core” in late November), Victor Gialanella, Mark Christopher Higley
- “General Hospital”: Garin Wolf (went “Fi-Core” immediately), Michael Conforti
- “One Life To Live”: Gary Tomlin, Fran Myers, Jeanne Marie Ford, Michelle Poteet Lisanti (all went “Fi-Core” immediately)
- “Passions”: James E. Reilly, Shawn Morrison, Pete T. Rich (went “Fi-Core” immediately)
- “The Young and The Restless”: Josh Griffith, Maria Arena Bell, Paula Cwikly (all went “Fi-Core” immediately)
There are no “Fi-Core” writers at “As The World Turns” and “Guiding Light.”
At “DAYS” the show decided not to use the services of Hogan Sheffer and Meg Kelly; instead they were paid to stay at home. This signifies that “DAYS” will name a new Head Writer.
Still at “DAYS,” it is unclear as to whether or not that the fired writers (Tom Casiello, Frederick Johnson, Gordon Rayfield, Judy Tate, Judith Donato, Renee Godelia, Richard Backus) will be returning to the show. More on this story in the upcoming days or weeks.
Over at “Y&R” there have been rumors and speculation about the departure of Executive Producer and Head Writer Lynn Marie Latham. However, there has been no word if these rumors are true or not.
UPDATE: April 18, 2008
The WGA released a letter today naming more writers that I didn’t originally have.
The list of writers are:
- “The Bold and The Beautiful”: John F. Smith
- “Days Of Our Lives”: Dena Higley (went “Fi-Core” just before the strike ended in February)
- “Passions”: Marlene Clark Poulter, Clem Egan, Darrell Ray Thomas Jr.