DC Exclusive: “John Black” Co-Creator Reacts to Days’ Shocking Firings of Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn!

Thom Racina, the man who wrote the ratings juggernaut wedding of a couple of soap opera characters named Luke and Laura (Tony Geary and Genie Francis) on General Hospital, before moving on to Days of Our Lives, where he and fellow co-head writers Sheri Anderson and Leah Laiman continued the supercouple craze, penning lush, romantic storylines for Patch and Kayla (Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans), Bo and Hope (Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso), Shane and Kim (Charles Shaughnessy and Patsy Pease) and John and Marlena (Drake Hogestyn and Deidre Hall), speaks exclusively to Daytime Confidential.com about the shocking ouster of Hogestyn and Hall.

Read why Racina believes Ken Corday's move to fire Days of Our Lives' most popular couple, reportedly to trim costs, was the "wrong way to fix what's wrong" with the NBC sudser. Find out what Racina feels Days can learn from his most recent employer, The Young and the Restless, in terms of rebuilding itself by focusing on core characters, as opposed to focusing on younger viewers. When you're done, go back and listen to our podcast interview with The Father of the Modern Soap Opera Supercouple (DC# 191). It's a true can't miss Thanksgiving treat for a soap fan.

Daytime Confidential: Hi Thom, hope you've been doing well. As the co-creator of John Black, and one of the head writers responsible for the character's early breakthrough romance with Dr. Marlena Evans, I wanted to get your take on Ken Corday's decision to fire Drake Hogestyn and Deidre Hall and write out those iconic characters.

Thom Racina: Jamey, is nothing sacred? Citibank collapsing, Lehman gone, Marlena too? I honestly was shocked [by the news of Hall and Hogestyn's firing], in an industry where nothing shocks me, and just think it's the wrong way to fix what's wrong [with the show]. First off, I love John and Marlena and know the fans do to, so John and Marlena would be last on the list of people to dump. There are other ways to save money. I fear this will do more damage than they realize.

DC: As a veteran of the daytime industry, what does this mean for the soap opera genre as a whole? If Days of Our Lives can get rid of its two most popular stars, is any soap star safe?

TR: No, no star on any show is safe today.

DC: As the writer who co-wrote epic romances for remaining supercouples Bo and Hope and Patch and Kayla, as well as co-creating the character of Steven "Patch" Johnson, what do you think Days needs to do to rebuild these couples? What about the show as a whole?

TR: I think they need to do what Y&R is doing. Go for the characters people know and love. I believe the coveted young viewers are never going to come, not today, not in the world of iPhones and podcasts, but young viewers will join older ones to watch these families and friends that have been their vicarious families and friends for years. Case in point, Y&R: Maria is doing a smashing job–doing just that, investing in the core characters, making it all about family, focusing on the people we grew up with. I did an Internet radio show to talk about my stint on Y&R and I was astounded that the audience, mainly kids in their 20's, were passionate about Nikki and Victor and Kay and Jill. They want the steady warmth of the characters they knew when they were much younger and started watching. If there are young people in those stories, fine and good, you need them for balance and energy, but they are not watching because Y&R is doing some teenage love affair. They are watching because Y&R is giving them compelling story, featuring the cast they have invested in. That's what Days should do.

DC: Would you considering returning to Days of Our Lives in some capacity?

TR: I'd love to go back to Days to write scripts, actually. I loved my gig on Y&R doing that. I also put it out there that Susie Horgan (former As The World Turns writer and one time executive producer of One Life to Live and now Racina's writing partner) and I would go back as head writers, but only as a team. I honestly think these shows need people who don't constantly think "we need young, young, young stories", people who really remember the glory days.

13 Responses

  1. Profile photo of Jillian Bowe
    Jillian Bowe

    Thom is the truth! He as a writer can tell you and execs that the core age group the soap industry’s trying to reach are NOT into the young storylines. I never was during my teen years, I am not now and I’m in the range that the industry’s trying to capture. I can care less about Noah and Eden on Y&R and the motley crew on DAYS. I’m more interested in the compelling storylines that the GROWN FOLKS are in. GET A CLUE KEN!

  2. Profile photo of east.west

    Thom and Tom at Days would be awesome.

    And he’s right you aren’t goin to get new viewers to Daytime anytime soon so write for the core and stop making new character w/actor/actresses w/questionable talents the center of the show.

  3. Profile photo of season1217

    Until we have more people like him behind the scenes this industry is doomed! The product has become inferior because the foundation (i.e., writers, producers) is shot to hell.

  4. Profile photo of snags

    Thom Racina? He wrote for my favorite cheesy soap of the 90s that a few dozen of you may know called “Dangerous Women”! OMG! It was so cheesy and it starred Valerie Wildman, the future (now former) Fay Walker on Days aka Nicole’s Mom. Anyway, I loved that show and it was just dripping with melodrama and endless cliffhangers. Being 12 and watching it, I fell in love with watching it along with my Mom.

    If he’s willing, bring him back. I LOVE his strategy! How novel, use the veterans/characters that viewers like! Wow, I LOVE this man’s thinking. Why oh why in the world is it that people who love and want to honor the soap genre don’t get the chance to? Color me bewildered!

  5. Profile photo of Steph

    Excellent interview. The guy is right on the money about what is wrong with Days. I would make any sacrifice necessary to the soap gods to get rid of Dena and hire this man. Oh and if Ken Corday wanted to take a permanent vacation that would be fine too.

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