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.