Soapdom’s email box has been bulging this morning asking us to confirm a story that was seen on Popeater via AOL. In this report, it was stated that Soap Digest broke a story that has come as a major blow to Days of our Lives fans. It seems that the long time fan favorite team of Marlena and John are going to leave the show, putting their portrayers, Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn, out of a job.
First thing this AM, we got on the phone with our contacts at Days and I am chagrinned to share that yes, indeed, this story is true.
This day and age of our failing economy, shifts in viewing habits of the daytime audience, and advertisers pulling dollars from the revenue stream pie, can only mean financial cuts for the soaps. Sounds like Days is caught in the quagmire. Heavy hitters and long time vets like Hall and Hogestyn command very healthy salaries. Eliminating those characters from the storyline immediately saves the show much moolah.
But we think it’s not only that. With the relatively new writing team under Dena Higley, Days has been focusing a lot of storytelling of late on a bunch of younger characters like Nick (Blake Berris), Max (Darin Brooks), Melanie (Molly Burnett), Stephanie (Shelley Henning) and Chelsea (Rachel Melvin). This newer, younger talent is not commanding the high salaries of the long-timers, and the storytelling potential is virtually unlimited with these new faces. The show gets twice the bang for its buck.
Along with trying to survive the budget cuts, soaps are attempting to adapt to the new digital age. Gone are the days when kids tuned in to soaps cos mom or grandma was watching. Nowadays, mom and grandma are at the gym or at the office, catching their soaps on TIVO late Sunday night before bed when the kids are all nestled asleep in theirs. Nowadays, kids are more engrossed in texting, ipoding, itunsing, guitar heroing, youtubing, myspacing, facebooking and twittering to get hooked on a soap.
So, what’s the industry to do? The fastest fix is to focus more on the younger sect. With any luck the Nicks, Chelseas, Stephanies, Melanies and Maxs of today will be the Johns and Marlenas of tomorrow. They will become the long time vets with a fan base that’s been following them since the year 2008. That is, if soaps wage the war against eroding viewership and network demands and win.
What mystifies me is why aren’t the soaps twittering? Facebooking? Going to where the much coveted younger audience is hanging these days? Methinks they best get with the program or risk losing the program altogether.
There is good news on the horizon for Days fans, however. The future of Days of our Lives remains certain, at least for the next couple of years. There is word that the show has been picked up for another 18 months, beginning when the current contract expires in March of 2009. It’s a far cry from the five year pickup they received last time, but at least the network is still in their corner for another year and a half. We are expecting a major press release to confirm this, and we couldn’t be more happy for the show.
However, with Hall being a fixture in Salem for 32 years, and Hogestyn for 22, we can’t help but wonder if they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes seeing more casualties. Time will tell. The good news is that long time John and Marlena fans will see the reunion they’ve been dreaming of for quite some time. The couple will reconcile after a year apart and ride off into the sunset together. As far as the official word from the show, they released the following statement:
"Days of our Lives has decided to rest the characters of ‘John Black’ and ‘Marlena Evans.’ After a year of separation, ‘John’ and ‘Marlena’ will finally reunite before exiting the canvas in early 2009.”
According to Days Executive Producer, Ken Corday, John and Marlena “will be will be
happily reunited after a long period of angst and separation and will be off-screen
come January for an unknown period of time. It was a very tough decision to make."
So, does that mean that after this unknown period of time, the characters will
return? Is the show truly just giving them a “rest,” and fully intends to bring them
back at some point? “Its the soaps after all,” the show spokesperson shared with
Soapdom. “Never say never.”
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