Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Praise Daytime. Okay, we bring you this with trepidation because we all know how whenever news stories are broken by online sites, the soaps love to run to the print mags to yell "not true" only for it to be later confirmed that the online sites were right all along, i.e. the on set turmoil with Dena Higley on Days, Ed Scott's firing, Josh Griffithbeing out at Y&R, Andrea Evansleaving OLTL, etc., however online sources are saying that Days of Our Lives front man Drake Hogestyn has once again been let go.
Again, I repeat, this is just a RUMOR at this point, because we here at Daytime Confidential, nor any of our blog-o-pals have heard any word from the set or an official source, but if this is true, it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the people in charge of Days of Our Lives care absolutely nothing about their fans.
John and Marlena (Deidre Hall) have been arguably the most popular couple in daytime since the mid-1990s and, save for the time when the late James E. Reilly was writing for them, their enormously vocal fans have been consistently given the shaft. I understand that the actors who play them are part of Days' allegedly uber expensive "Big Four" (Hogestyn, Hall, Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso), but anyone who would even think about touching these actors, or Joe Mascolo and Alison Sweeney for that matter, before gutting newbies like Molly Burnett, Shawn Christian,Shelly Hennig or even veteran actors who don't have similar fan bases like Thaao Penghlis, Josh Taylor and Leanne Hunley, shouldn't be working in television. Do you think Grey's Anatomy would get kill of Meredith first to save money? Would Brothers & Sisters can Sally and Calista to keep that one brother and his wife no one cares about?
I swear the daytime soap opera industry has to be the only business establishment that doesn't learn from the mistakes of its peers Someone really should provide these suits with case studies, since that's the kind of thing they no doubt understand. Here, I'll take a stab at it:
Remember Santa Barbara after A Martinez and Marcy Walker (Eden and Cruz) left? Neither do we.
Remember what happened at Another World once TPTB decided to let focus groups and budget concerns dictate casting decisions, costing the show Alice Barrett (Frankie), Paul Michael Valley (Ryan), Kale Brown (Michael) and Charles Keating (Carl). Sure Keating came back, but by then it was too late. (Are you reading this Ellen or are you to busy watching The Hills?)
Speaking of daytime's savior Ellen Wheeler, how about an example from a soap that is still on the air? Guiding Light made the decision to get rid of stars like Grant Aleksander (Phillip), Paul Anthony Stewart (Danny), Nancy St. Alban (Michelle), backburner Maureen Garrett (Holly), Liz Keifer (Blake), Marj Dusay (Alex) and the best actor in daytime, Justin Deas (Buzz), while sporadically using returnees like Maeve Kinkead (Vanessa) and Kurt McKinney (Matt), and look where GL is now, fighting for dear airtime in the streets of Peapack.
Did the brass at this 70-year-old soap really think characters like Cyrus, Marina, Ashley, Grady, Rafe and Natalia would make fans forget about losing beloved veterans? If anything it made long term fans who know the score resentful about these characters, no matter how promising some may be.
We've all heard the logic. You can get four hair models for the price of one vet. Well, from where this soap fan is sitting, watching this industry implode daily and ratings bleed out in such a way that there isn't enough gauze in General Hospital to stave it off, I have to ask the question Dr. Phil made famous to the people in charge of daytime television: How's this business model working for you?
I am not saying playing veteran actors is all it takes to save a soap. Lord knows Days of Our Lives proved that isn't the case. They brought back Patch, Kayla, Jack, Jennifer, Frankie, Austin, Carrie etc. yet it didn't make a ratings blip.
One Life to Live has been on an "I Love the 80's" tour for the past six months and many fans, especially newer ones, have been left scratching our heads, or banging them against our TV screens. So of course it isn't all about having popular characters. The storylines have to be there and network execs with the creative instincts of paralyzed slugs need to butt out and let the writers do their jobs by not mandating which couples should reunite and/or dictating how many days Actor A or Actress B should be on the air based on Six Sigma analysis. They should also stop viewing the casting departments of their shows as a vehicle to hook up their out-of-work BFFs with cushy new gigs, meanwhile dismantling the few storylines their soaps had going that were actually good (re: As The World Turns).
What it all boils down to is, if you ask the 150 or so people who still watch daytime soaps if they would rather watch an expensive vet three days a week or some Gap model learn how to act on the front burner of their favorite soap, I predict most would go for the vet, especially those of us over the age of 11.
I'm not saying the vets shouldn't be asked to take paycuts, because they should, across the board. Soaps aren't making the money they once did, so to pay these people 80's era salaries or even 90's era salaries is ridiculous. But to simply get rid of a veteran star with a huge fanbase without even trying to make it work is soap suicide.
Look at the brillantly-rebounding CBS soap The Young and the Restless. Bringing back the beloved Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) has been key to redeeming the show and quite the lovely hallmark to Y&R's lapsed fans. And as of yet, they haven't had her eat poisoned pancakes.
By placing more value on a smattering of newbies than on the vets, daytime has effectively succeeded in driving off the grandmothers and mothers who once got their daughters and granddaughters hooked on this genre. I damn sure hope it will all have be worth it when a spinoff starring Dr. Phil's wife or The Mark Consuelos Show takes the place of Days of Our Lives or Guiding Light.