Great Scott?: TV Guide Magazine Wonders if Ousted Producer Saved Salem
TV Guide Magazine's Michael Logan has a new feature up begging the question did Ed Scott, former co-executive producer of The Young and the Restless, and for a time, Days of Our Lives, save the soap opera, crediting Scott with turning DAYS around and helping it to secure 13 Emmy nods. Here's what Scott, who Logan reports has three feature films in the works, has to say:
“It’s proof a show can turn around in these difficult times, a soap can be saved,” Scott says. “There needs to be leadership, drive, positive energy and a respect for the audience—but that’s nothing new. It’s old-school stuff. Of course, you don’t have all the time in the world. You need to work hard and work fast.”
While I readily agree Scott brought a new energy and vision to DAYS during his brief tenure, by allegedly violating the Writers Guild of America Minimum Basic Agreement by re-writing scripts and reportedly encouraging certain actors to do the same —two of whom are no longer with the serial—thus giving head hack Dena Higley the ammo she needed to reportedly seek out the assistance of the WGA, therefore plunging the soap into a bitter, behind-the-scenes tug of war with Scott and said actors on one side, and Dena Higley on the other, while Ken Corday was allegedly no where to be found when time came to referee, Scott did much to offset the positive steps he was taking in an attempt to get the show back on track. Besides, Emmy nominations are great and all, but DAYS didn't really begin to slowly get its act together storywise and tonally until current executive producer Gary Tomlin took over the reigns. I don't think all of Tomlin and co-head writer Chris Whitesell's hard work cleaning up the behind-the-scenes messes made by Corday, Scott and Higley should be overlooked all because of one impressive Emmy reel.
And of course the interview wouldn't be complete without an actor taking a swipe at the late James E. Reilly's legacy. Check out what the Emmy-nominated Peter Reckell has to say:
“Ed inspired our entire company,” Reckell says. “He gave us back what made Days a part of American culture to begin with. Sure, the devil possession was a big conversation piece, but our show deeply mattered to people when it was about love and loss, family and relationships. Ed understood that.”
While I have adored Reckell since childhood and will continue to do so, as he plays my all-time favorite soap hero, I take issue with his passive aggressive dig at Reilly's greatest epic. Love it, or hate it, the devil possession storyline was much more than a "big conversation piece". The vampires on Port Charles were a big conversation piece, but they didn't spike ratings. Reilly's devil possession storyline managed to cause both watercooler buzz and show NBC the money. People can deny the story's impact all they want, but it won't lessen the bofo surges Reilly's storylines caused for DAYS' ratings during his first stint at the show (92-97). The devil possession storyline took the show to Number 2 in households and caused DAYS to brutalize its competition among women 18-49. Plus the storyline was about love and loss, as all great supernatural metaphors are. Who can ever forget the look on the Salemites faces when their beloved Marlena (Deidre Hall) "died" following her exorcism, only to be resurrected by John's (Drake Hogestyn) love? I wonder, does every DAYS actor who obviously hated this story think shows like True Blood or Buffy The Vampire Slayer or movies like Twilight don't convey stories of "love, loss, family and relationships"?
Let's face it, Santa Barbara and Another World were, for the most part, much more critically acclaimed dramas than DAYS, but neither survived the 90's. I firmly believe the only reason DAYS did was James E. Reilly.
In my opinion, you can't even begin to compare the amount of time and money Reilly's over-the-top storylines bought DAYS, to Scott's short stint in Salem. Almost 20 years later fans are still jizzing over Buried Alive, Marlena's Possession and Kristen, Susan, et al on You Tube and message boards. Something tells me the plane crash that killed Pa Brady— as groovy as it was— won't be alloted as much space in the soap opera history books.
And yes, yes, a thousand times yes, Reilly went bat shit crazy the second time around at DAYS, so did several other much more acclaimed writers/producers during their respective second engagements, the late Gloria Monty or Michael Malone anyone? I don't hear anyone lamenting the brilliance of Marty's original rape storyline on One Life to Live because Malone later came back to pen the Santis. When General Hospital savior Monty is brought up, people tend to talk about the magic of Luke and Laura, not the abomination of the Eckerts, or Monty's plan to get rid of the Quartermaines (It looks like Guza learned from the master, er mistress!).
I really wish discussions about the canon of DAYS history can stop being about pre-Reilly vs. post-Reilly. I have watched this show since circa 1982 and am a fan of both the classic, supercouple heavy 80's and the wacked out 90's, and am able to respect the contributions that both eras made to the show's history. I wish others could do the same. Oh well, bring on Crystal Chappell!