Daytime Confidential’s Top 10 Writers/Producers of 2008

No. 10: Tom Casiello and Sara Bibel – Damn The Man Save the Empire!; Deep Soap

When the going gets tough, the tough get blogging. The year 2008 was a tough year for soap writers. With the Writers Guild of America Strike of 2007 stretching into February of the following year, and several soaps getting rid of the once essential role of breakdown writing, soap scribes found themselves facing a bleaker outlook in terms of future job prospects. Two of those writers, Tom Casiello and Sara Bibel embarked on the previously uncharted path of soap writers-turned-bloggers.
Former Days of Our Lives writer Casiello’s confessional, informative, at times emotional, MySpace blog, started simply as a means of keeping his writing juices flowing during the strike yet, became a cult web hit in 2008, moving to Blogger. Casiello’s popularity was due in large part to his ability to satisfy his reader’s hunger for knowing what it is actually like to write for daytime, without ever once demeaning the genre he loved to work in. Not since Harding Pete Lemay‘s classic memoir Eight Years In Another World, has a soap writer so bravely allowed fans a glimpse behind the Wizard’s curtain. Casiello, who was one of a group of writers who shamefully lost his slot at Days of Our Lives when the Corday soap decided to stick with Fi-Core writer Dena Higley, politely dispelled the myth that "anyone can write soaps"  by doing what he was once paid to do, carefully breaking down a highly complex dramatic situation over the course of several installments.

Harvard-educated Bibel, late of The Young and the Restless, took a slightly more mainstream approach, covering soaps for the popular TV site with her online column Deep Soap. Bibel’s witty, straight forward coverage and commentary of all things soap provided a balanced view of daytime’s breaking news stories in 2008, sans histrionics (that’s our specialty), proving to naysayers that it is possible to be a constructive critic of the industry you once worked for, after all it never hurt Roger Ebert, the famed film critic who also penned several movies, including the spoof Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.


No. 9: Susan Dansby and Chris Van Etten –  As The World Turns, How Did You Get That Job?; One Life to Live, Likely Story

In the tradition of Michael Malone and Thom Racina, soap scribes Susan Dansby and Chris Van Etten (As The World Turns), added published author to their resumes in 2008.  Dansby, one of daytime’s precious few writers of color, released How Did You Get That Job? (previously released in e-book format in 2007), detailing her path to becoming a successful daytime drama writer and director. As if giving rabid soap fans who dream about being the next Monty or Bell a practical guide to breaking into the industry wasn’t enough reason to love Dansby, we hear she is vocal supporter on the ATWT writing staff for the wildly popular-yet-oft-mismanaged  gay supercouple Luke and Noah.

Van Etten, whose day job has him being part of arguably the best writing team daytime has seen in well over a decades, teamed up with famed young adult novelist David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and playwright David Ozanich (under the joint pen name David Van Etten) to create the insanely addictive, Likely Story series of books about Mallory, the teenage daughter of an over-the-top soap diva (Is there really any other kind?) who creates her own daytime drama, all while navigating the daily turmoil that is high school. The original Likely Story spanned the sequel All That GlittersA third installment, Red Carpet Riot is scheduled to hit book stores next summer. These books are a must-read for soap fans. 

10 Responses

  1. Profile photo of siomonstuart2003

    I would also include Nelson Branco, because many of the s/ls and crazy comments is way more interesting than what the heck is on the soaps theses days. I love the list and hope and pray that they will fill in when B&B, ATWT, DAys, GL, and Gh get them to save the soap industry that is lacking in vision and creativity.


  2. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    Terrific List!!

    And I had no idea that Susan Danby’s book is available as a “regular” book now, thanks for the heads up! Can’t wait to read it :)

    Though I have to disagree w/ the statement that “there’s no denying The Rapemance was one of the most well-written storylines daytime has seen play out in years” Oh I deny it very much!

    Not only was it disgusting, but it was preposterous and insulted viewers’ intelligence. The writers turned Marty into a blank slate moron and tried to *manipulate* their audience into sympathizing with Todd (I lost track of all the “poor Todd” moments.) I watched the immediate aftermath and while I think the actors are wonderful, I was less than impressed by ME and TSJ’s severely understated performances (it was as if they were in another story completely) and Susan “Look! I’m Hissing!” Haskell’s scenery chewing. FAIL

    I’m all for stories that are dark and that push the envelope. But in a medium that continues to use and abuse women and repeatedly treats rape as just another gimmick storytelling tool, another Rapemance was not what we needed. And for that story to be told *badly* (IMO) on top of that? Double FAIL.

  3. Profile photo of ladyofthelake

    I must be the only person on here who loathed Nightshift. It was full of dumb stories that were ripped off from even dumber movies, extremly bad acting. I mean the guy with the four kidneys, the pay it forward, anything Jagger. Nightshift sucked, ugh. I do give credit to TR for the way he played Robert’s cancer styline. He was so raw, so true. At times I couldn’t watch him because it was to painful. My mother had cancer twice and lost the battle, I work from home because I wanted to take care of her. TR was so good, to bad there won’t be an emmy for his performance. That’s about it, and the flashback episode of Nightshift that had evrybody from the 80’s. Those two things alone couldn’t make me lke it.

  4. Profile photo of Johnathon

    I don’t exactly ‘loath’ night shift, but I in no way think its the best thing since sliced OLTL …(I tried…)

    The show had alot of issues, but at the end of the day there was a good amount i did like of it, and I think some of my issues would have been resolved if it had more time.

    A.K.A. ssjohn

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