Was Dena Higley the inspiration for Alanis Morissette's "Ironic"?
Bridges Burned: The behind-the-scenes machinations at Days of Our Lives and Soap Opera Weekly are proving to be soapier than anything we've seen on daytime in the last decade-okay save for the climax of Rosie vs. Elisabeth - and that isn't necessarily a good thing.
While it's okay to see the darkest components of human nature played out on Gossip Girl, when it's real people on a Jossip thread, it can become a bit scary. I mean seriously, it was a job at a soap opera magazine people. If she was that much of a bitch, why not just quit instead of putting cyber hexes on the heads of her first born children? It's really not that serious.
A lot of fans are furious that Days executive producer Ken Corday allegedly buckled under fear and pressure in "choosing" lamented Days scribe Dena Higley over famed daytime exec Ed Scott (formerly of The Young and the Restless). From what we're hearing, Corday didn't have much of a choice if he wanted to keep his already troubled soap from coming under fire from the Writers Guild of America.
Ed Scott's rumored re-writing of Higley's scripts and alleged encouragment of several of the show's actors to do the same, put the Corday soap in a very precarious position with the WGA.
Whether or not Ed Scott is the greatest producer since Jehovah made man out of dust isn't really the issue here, nor is whether or not Dena Higley is even fit to write traffic tickets in downtown Peapack, New Jersey - where my fave GL actresses are unfortunately still "sweating their balls off" (but Ellen's gonna save daytime just you watch!).
The issue is that actors should not, I repeat not be allowed to re-write storylines. I'm not talking about ad-libbing or changing dialogue to make it fit your style, I am talking complete and utter re-writing stories that CHANGE direction of long term narrative, which is reportedly what was happening at Days of Our Lives. It's not right, it costly and above all else it is beyond arrogant and if Scott encouraged this behavior, he was wrong, wrong a thousand times wrong.
I can readily understand an actor's frustration with a new writer who reportedly refuses to take meetings with the actors. The Days vets have been playing their characters on and off for decades, so it is beyond ridiculous that a writer wouldn't want to discuss potential stories with them. Who other than we rabid daytime fans know these characters better than the actors who play them? That being said, there is protocol, checks and balances at any place of business, and that is what a soap is, a business. The actors should have complained to Scott and Corday, who then should have reigned Higley in the right way.
If I don't like the assignments I am given at a celeb magazine, I can't go to the copy editor and tell them I'm doing a new feature I've developed all on my own without the section editor's approval. Even if the editor is about as in touch with current pop culture as Richard Simmons, I would be no doubt tossed on my bootylicious ass. So what gives an actor the right to do that on the set of a soap?
A lot of fans tend to act like if what is seen onscreen in entertaining then the backstage stuff be damned, well I am sorry, it is about more than whether or not Bo and Fancy Face (who, did I mention, are one of my two all-time favorite couples? Peter and Kiki lets have drinks!) have a storyline.
These writers, actors, directors, hair stylists, etc. are all human beings with families to feed and careers to protect. How would you feel if someone else was doing shoddy work, yet turned it in with your name on it? That's basically what happens if actors re-write storylines that turn out to be duds. The fans aren't going to blame the actors, because they don't know what's going on. They will blame the person whose name appears in the credits scroll.
If Ed Scott didn't like the stories Higley was spinning - and lets face it, who could blame him because any writer who doesn't watch her own show shouldn't be working in this industry - why not simply FIRE her. Now see that would have been "too much like right" as my grandmother used to say.
Instead Scott allegedly jeopardized the show's integrity and bottom line by letting actors with red pens run amok and afoul of the WGA. The doggone ink hasn't even dried on the WGA's Minimum Basic Agreement with the producers and here Days execs are acting a plum fool when the show is on cancellation watch! I'm sorry but this makes absolutely no sense.
Of course the bitter irony in all of this is that Higley, who went Fi-Core to write for Days during the Writer's Strike of 2007-08, only to be rewarded with the head writer job at the Strike's end, has basically been thrown a lifeline by a Guild she didn't support. Meanwhile several then-Days writers who walked the picket lines were fired. Luckily for Higley, the Guild had more grace in this situation than she did during the Strike.
What any of this means for the future of Days of Our Lives, Soap God Agnes Nixon only knows, but one thing is for damn sure. Ken Corday is going to have to step up and begin playing an active role in steering this beloved soap opera, or find someone capable and scrupulous enough to do it. He's going to have to find a writer who understands that this genre was founded on character, home, hearth, love and romance, not plot points, ripped-from-the-headline spectactulars and/or putting teens with bad Southern accents on the front burner for months ad nauseum while the show's iconic supercouples pour coffee and give advice on who their SORAS'ed children should or should not screw.
In general Corday and the rest of TPTB who control this dying genre are going to have to produce SOAP OPERAS. They're going to have to get over their fantasies of being Scorcese or Stephen King and tell the type of stories this genre does best.
If they need reference points, just turn on primetime and watch Mad Men, Brothers and Sisters, Damages, Ugly Betty, Army Wives or any of the number of hit serials that have successfully borrowed from the format daytime soaps invented, while the traditonal "soaps" are still resorting to mind control and having vixens become pregnant by children with two fathers.
If you want to write for Maury Povich, please, do all of us who love this genre a favor and go do that. There is nothing wrong with writing cartoonish smut, lots of people like cartoonish smut, but the fans of this genre, who have hung on to the bitter (almost) end want and deserve more. Rant over.