Tom Casiello, in a letter to his fans that is has circulated widely around the Internet since Soap Opera Network broke the news that Days of Our Lives fired pretty much its entire writing staff, says goodbye to Salem and its stars.
We have it, in its entirety, posted below.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
So Long, Salem... I’ll Miss You the Most
So let's get the logistics out of the way first.
Yesterday I received a phone call I've received three other times in my life - but one that never cut so deep as this. I learned that I would NOT be returning to Days of our Lives when the strike ends. My time in Salem is done - ended back on November 1st when I turned my last breakdown in, and I didn't know it.
I could probably launch into an essay about the inner workings of a television show... the secret cabals and the backalley strike deals that were made. I could potentially try and analyze the entire situation, try and find out how a writing team that started off the year doing strong, then ended up in LAST PLACE (due to dictates from the higher-ups), then somehow managed to come back and end the year in 4th place in Households and 1st place in the 18-34 demographic were all summarily kicked out at once. But this isn't about asking those questions, or trying to analyze what happened, or why we're not going home to Days again when the strike ends. That's not why I wanted to write this.
Instead, this is a sad goodbye to a town I grew up with. To Tony and Anna, characters I never dreamed would be on my screen again, much less saying the words I wrote. To LeAnn and Lauren Koslow, for letting me write the one and only Kate/Anna scene of 2007 - a story I hoped and prayed would be picked up at one point. And who knows - maybe it still will be? To Julie Pinson, who redefines supporting player, and SHOULD be a leading lady... and whom I always tried so hard to give more to. I'm sorry, Julie - you deserved better. To Bo and Hope, for letting me infuse them with a sense of humor again. and especially Kristian Alfonso, for collaborating with me on one of the most wonderful eulogies at John Black's funeral. To John and Marlena, two characters I struggled with, and were JUST figuring out and finally learning to love again weeks before the strike brought everything to a crashing halt. You taught me how to delve deeper, to see how complex you both were - and how you weren't cartoons at all, but truly detailed, layered characters. To Steve and Kayla, and especially my lovely Judi Luciano (who remembered me from when I was an INTERN at Another World nine years ago!!!), who I had the pleasure of writing for again as Adrienne - the Johnson family are personal favorites of mine. And to write Benjy's death broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes - and I wouldn't have had it any other way. To Nick and Chelsea and Max and Stephanie and Belle and Shawn - for teaching me how to write kids, how NOT to write kids, and especially to Brandon and Martha for letting me move them out of the world of "kids" and into adulthood. And to Sami, Lucas and EJ - three characters who went round and round, and always taught me something new about the power of temptation, redemption and love.
I'm also saying goodbye to the most wonderful team of writers I've worked with. there wasn't one moment of paranoia, bitterness, anger, drama, jealousy - nothing but laughter and support and a genuine love for what we do. That's so rare to find around a writers' table in soaps these days, and even if they don't realize it, they really taught me so much. They were my heroes before I got the job, and they're my heroes after. Hogan Sheffer is a gentleman, a scholar and a true friend and mentor. Whether you liked what he did or hated it, I'm telling you - as a boss, you can't ask for anything more. He is full of joy. He is integrity. He is the real deal.
But most of all... I write this to the fans of Days of Our Lives.
We writers do not have much contact with you. Sure, we get focus groups results, and we see how what we write is reflected in the ratings. But there hasn't been a whole lot of interaction between us over the years. Which is a shame really. We share a love for this fictional town - and we all want to see it thrive. Why put that wall between us? I started this blog almost a year ago, to talk about my time in Salem... and how amazing it was to write for a show I watched every day growing up. And I met some WONDERFUL fans. People who watch the show, love the show, understand the show, and just want it to be the best it could be. I listened to you. I spread your concerns. I tried to do right by you. I wanted to give John Black a send-off people would never forget...that wasn't just another Salem funeral you've seen so many times. I wanted to give you both a Thanksgiving and a Christmas episode that were old-fashioned soap opera - family bonds, and memories, and drama, and flashbacks and montages and warm fuzzies mixed in with the death threats. And you responded by telling me how much you enjoyed those episodes. Which gives me hope that the soap opera world doesn't have to be about plot stunts and location shoots and sensationalistic stories. You want life. You want love. You want friendship and desire and loss and gain and death and resurrection. You want to feel something. You want to be moved. You want to believe. And for a brief moment in time, we got to give it to you in Salem. And I hope it continues. Maybe there is hope for this genre after all.
So thank you for one of the best years of my life. Who knows where I'll end up next... wherever I do end up, I'll take with me everything I learned at Days - what I did right AND what I did wrong. (And Lord knows there were plenty of clunkers I wrote in the last year too... don't think I didn't cringe along with you when they aired, my friends) But whichever town I end up penning next, I promise you this: I will continue listening to what you all have to say. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - we're in this together: the writers, directors, actors, crew AND THE FANS. And we all want to see a successful world fully realized 250 hours a year.
Thank you so much for 2007. So long, Salem! I'll miss you most of all!