(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — What started out as a typical week that began on July 25 ended up being one of the worst in Soap Opera Network history, but you wouldn’t have known it from a behind the scenes perspective.
On Wednesday, July 27, I had posted that our server was being transferred to a new provider that would allow our readers to load us up faster than ever before and if you blinked, you would have missed the change in systems. Unfortunately, you kept on blinking and for three consecutive days Soap Opera Network was offline, no where to be found and no way to say TOLDJA! (gotta love our Nikki Finke at Deadline.com). On Saturday, July 30 and heading into Sunday, July 31, Soap Opera Network‘s Community Message Boards returned to the web with a new look courtesy of a software upgrade. Although it takes getting used to, I have to admit it is one of the better looking changes our boards have seen to date. We will be tinkering with minor details per recommendations from posters. Additionally, today, Soap Opera Network has debuted its new website using a new platform. While the old platform was nice and did us wonders for more than five years, times have changed and so have we. We hope you like the redesign and we will definitely be correcting any bugs you or we may come across in the hours, days and weeks to come, specifically in relation to links, etc. We hope you like the new design as much as we did in building it for you.
While we were offline and left to cleaning up the mess that we were forced into, we had learned that “General Hospital,” despite Prospect Park‘s desire to have it did not sign a deal with Disney/ABC Television Group to bring the series to the World Wide Web when it debuts “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” in January 2012 (yes, ladies and gentleman this is now the confirmed debut month for the web launch for both soaps). We also learned that Tamara Braun is indeed returning to “GH” in the coming weeks despite the shows explicit denial to the contrary, although it remains unclear as to whom she will be portraying. But that wasn’t the biggest scoop of them all. Soap Opera Network has learned that when “One Life to Live” wraps filming at the ABC Television Center in New York City this November, it will indeed be moving its studio space when Prospect Park takes over production. But, despite reports that it will be moving to one studio somewhere in the Big Apple, we have learned that it isn’t just moving to one specific studio, but to three! According to sources, “One Life” will call one studio in Brooklyn and another in Queens home once production begins on v2.0. The third studio location wasn’t made clear at press time, nor were the names of the studios in the aforementioned boroughs, however we’ve been told that with the excess studio digs “One Life” crew members will not be forced to take down as many sets as they have been doing for much of the shows 43-year history on ABC.
Not one to leave another exclusive out, Soap Opera Network was in Burbank on Thursday, July 28 and visited the set of NBC’s “Days of our Lives,” where we spoke with newly appointed head writers Darrell Ray Thomas and Marlene McPherson, who have promised many things for fans who have felt the show has turned into something they no longer recognize. From the return of Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn as John and Marlena, to the debut of the Horton Square and even a sneak peek at what’s been going on with the characters before their material debuts on Monday, September 26, tune Soap Opera Network as we prepare you for new “DAYS” to come.
Until next Notebook…
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.
Soap Opera Digest confirmed on Friday afternoon that controversial “All My Children” Head Writer Charles Pratt, Jr. has been released from his position with the ABC soap. Sources close to the matter indicate that the official announcement from ABC will be made this Monday.