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35 May 2nd, 2010 The Untold Story from Ken Corday’s Book Launch Party

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

This past Thursday night at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, the who’s who of Salem’s past and present, and other legendary creative soap notables, came out in droves to celebrate the launch of Days of our Lives executive producer Ken Corday’s new memoirs: The Days of our Lives: The True Story of One Family’s Dream and the Untold History of Days of our Lives.

DAYS current cast members including; Lauren Koslow, Alison Sweeney, Joseph Mascolo, Galen Gering, Crystal Chappell, Peggy McKay, Kristian Alfonso, Casey Deidrick, Molly Burnett, James Reynolds, Renee Jones, Arlene Sorkin, Leann Hunley, Arianne Zuker, James Scott, Louise Sorel, Chandler Massey, Gabriella Rodriguez, Judi Evans, Wally Kurth, Josh Taylor, Nadia Bjorlin with boyfriend, B&B’s Brandon Beemer, Shelley Hennig, Suzanne Rogers, and Josh Taylor were on hand to support their boss’s new foray into the publishing world.  But that’s not all.  B&B’s exec producer, Brad Bell and his mom, Lee Phillip Bell, also were on hand, as well as NBC SR VP Current Series, Bruce Evans, DAYS head writer, Dena Higley, and co-executive producer, Gary Tomlin, and actress, Mary Beth Evans.  However, the arrival of the man who everyone was so thrilled to see was Drake Hogestyn (Ex-John) along with his lovely wife, Victoria.  I will get to that in a minute.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

It has always been nice for me to be part of the extended Days of our Lives family.  In 1997, I was asked by Sony Digital Entertainment to come up with a website that reflected Days of our Lives. It was my goal to make the site an extension of Ken’s vision of the show.  Back then, I did work more closely with Ken and his team in the early days of www.dool.com.  I think I even was responsible for the URL name… DOOL!

This night, prior to the start of the festivities, I had a chance to chat with Ken about portions and moments in his book that stood out to me.  Sitting alongside Ken was Sourcebook Senior Editor and Publisher, Peter Lynch.  I let Ken know that I had received a copy of the book, which I had read, and he let me know that there was a major difference in the final hardcover edition!  “That was an advanced copy that went out a month before the final draft, and obviously Frances Reid (Alice) had passed away since that copy.  So we had to go back to finesse some things in the hardcover edition, and deal with some things involving Frances in the past tense.  I did not deal with her passing in the book, because the book really comes to a conclusion at our 44th anniversary, which was in November.  Frances passed this February.  And the next book will either pick up from the time of her passing and this evening, or be more of a tell-all. There were a hundred pages like that, that did not make it into the final book.  They were left out because Peter felt that it may not be pertinent or relevant to the overall arc of the story, and they were at times too personal.  I had to get a better idea of who was going to read this book from a global perspective.  Just to write it for myself or to titillate the viewers would be a different book.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Ken’s memoirs detail the Corday family struggles in creating, getting on the air, and continuing the Days of our Lives legacy.  It also deals with very personal struggles of Ken’s family, including his brother Christopher’s suicide, and his mother Betty Corday’s battle with the bottle.  Ken shared his experience in coming to terms with recalling difficult times for inclusion in the book.  “At first, I was a bit reticent to talk about my brother’s suicide, and to let people know how much my mother Betty had suffered after the show’s 20th anniversary.  She never really enjoyed herself again.  But once I made the commitment to tell it, it was therapy times ten.  I was able to deal with my pain, and how I was able to translate it to discussions with other head writers on the show at the time.  In life there is pain and happiness, and for us to think it’s all a soap opera that is lovely and great… no, no, no… you have to have the balance.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Corday believes the success of Days of our Lives is immeasurable, and some of its achievements or missteps needed to be called out in his book.  Ken was strong in his viewpoint when talking about the dos and don’ts of daytime dramas.  “DAYS has been a show about firsts in a lot of ways.  I am not going to put it above the soon to be six soaps, but not only were we the first soap in color, but we were the first soap to deal with interracial romance, and the network nipped that in the bud.  It was a volatile time!  We were the first show to deal with abortion, and again, very volatile, and it still is, and then spousal abuse, and child abuse. There are all areas that you learn from. There are certain no-nos.  Don’t kill babies if you don’t have to.  Don’t do stories of mental illness if you don’t have to.  And the third is don’t do child abuse.  It’s not part of the genre.  I have never seen it work successfully on other soaps.  That material is the evening news; it’s not soap opera.”  One of my favorite moments in the book is when Corday recalls Edward Mallory’s (Ex-Bill Horton) work ethic and personality.  Who knew?  He apparently was quite the rascal, but a brilliant man who could foresee Ken’s future in taking over the reigns of the series from his mother, Betty.  “Ed was Peck’s Bad Boy.  He played Bill Horton, the ne’r-do-well rapist, whose rape victim fell in love with him.  He was a mentor to me. He said to me, ‘Oh, the once and future king’, which is the literary name for a young King Arthur, and it totally went over my head.  He would say, ‘I see your mother and your father in you,’ and he was very encouraging.  I guess he knew I would end up taking over the show.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

The book ends in 2009 with Corday addressing all the inner-workings of how DAYS survived getting its renewal and staying on the air, when cancellation seemed imminent just a few years ago, “That is without a doubt the most gratifying thing that has happened to me on this show since we began. We were inches away from getting our heads cut off, and the edict from NBC was, ‘Take it or leave it.  Make the show for half as much, or see ya later.’  So, I said, ‘OK, but we get to run the show.  So please do not second guess us.’  So here we are, and that was a little more than two years ago.  The show has the highest ratings it has had for years and ten percent up from last year.  It is the only show that has grown in ratings on NBC.  And not to speak ill or to bite the hand that feeds me, I don’t think they ever in their wild dreams expected this to happen.  It shows; correct and brilliant writers, right cast melding together with a producer who works so efficiently, and with characters that are more appealing and compelling.  Bill Bell had a great quote.  He said, ‘You take two actors, and a wonderful script, and a waterfall,’ and he would go on to say, ‘Who the heck needs the waterfall?’  The waterfalls are gone in daytime.  We don’t do these lavish remotes anymore.  It’s much more the internal struggling soap opera.  It is extremely gratifying that we have come so far from where we were a couple years ago.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So who is this book trying to reach?  The DAYS fanatics who have followed the show from the beginning, or the newbie’s?  Not actually, according to Peter Lynch. “Obviously, the book will be a spot on appeal for DAYS fans, and in one sense it’s a story about family, and the other, it’s a story about what it is like to be part of a creative process, having a dream, and seeing it come true.  I think that behind every dream that comes true, there is family behind it that is loving, supporting, and nurturing that dream.  So really, I think it’s for mothers, children, and for anybody who ever had a dream to act, write, perform, and how that can happen.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

After giving Ken a hug and well wishes on his success, I moved to the arrivals area to chat with some of Salem’s finest.  First up: Crystal Chappell (Carly).  I wanted to know how she is digging the Chloe/Daniel/Carly debacle.  “I am loving DAYS, and I love Daniel and Chloe and Carly.  Carly is just all up in their business.  And I am going to accept that about her. (Laughs)  Daniel’s hot, and Chloe’s hot, and so they are good people to hang out with.” (Laughs)  I had to remind Crystal that it always seems that no matter what Dr. Carly does it messes up a lot of people’s lives!  “I don’t mind if Carly is flawed.  I am very comfortable playing people who are screwed up.  And after ten years of Guiding Light, I am use to that (Laughs). You know to me, it’s the happily ever after that scare the hell out of me!  I would like to see what is happening with her and Bo.  Is this really right?  Or, is it a stop gap?”  With the Daytime Emmy nominations just around the corner, Chappell confirms she did submit the graveyard scene from Guiding Light where Olivia professes her love for Natalia.  “I like the reel and we will see how it goes.  We will all be in Vegas and drinking and gambling.  If I don’t win, I will get drunk enough and pretend like I won.  And, I do not want a boycott from the fans if I don’t win. Let’s just rein that in right now.  I would be happy just to be participating.  And you just have to keep moving forward.  And getting to go to the Actress Nominee lunch is the greatest part. You know, great women and champagne, and you know what happens!” (Laughs)  But being part of tonight’s celebration for Ken was important to Crystal.  “Ken is genuinely one of the nicest people I have ever met.  He is who he is with you.  He has always tried to make me feel comfortable.  Not everyone does that.  They don’t.  I respect him for that, and bringing back an actress who left 16 years ago under not so great circumstances, is extremely open-minded and lovely of him.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Suzanne Rogers (Maggie) echoes more of Chappell’s sentiments on Corday and their unique bond.  “What Ken always says is, ‘I am the sister he never had,’ and truly he is the brother I never had.  If it weren’t for him, I do not know if I would still be on the show.  I know many have tried over the years to get my character off the canvas.  I would not have much to do.  I know it was hard.  Now we have a producer (Gary Tomlin) who said to me the first day he saw me, ‘Why aren’t you working?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And he shook his head and walked away.  Then, all of a sudden scripts started coming into my room.  I love Ken very much, and he is my best friend, and it’s nice he is also my executive producer. You can’t ask for more than that.”  With Rogers having a soap opera renaissance as Maggie Horton, I wanted her to set the record straight about the show’s decision to readdress Maggie’s Myasthenia Gravis.  It is something that Rogers has suffered with, on and off throughout her adult life.  “Maggie is in remission now, and they brought it up.  I said, ‘Please put me back in remission because this is awfully close to home.  I would not like to revisit this again.  I don’t mind being informative and letting the audience know about it, but I just as soon not play it.’  Everyone was worried for me.”  But now that Maggie is going in remission, could a romance be just around the corner?  “Victor is using her as a confidant.  Peggy McKay (Caroline) is all upset with me! (Laughs) She goes, “You are going to get married to Victor!”  And I go, “No, I am not.  I bet Vivian is.”  And she goes, “That is not what I hear.” And I go, “Peggy it’s a script.”  I get into trouble and I don’t have to do a thing. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Soap stalwart, Wally Kurth (Justin), let me in on his thoughts on having Judi Evans back for a moment as Adrienne, and working as a potential love interest for Kristian Alfonso’s flipped out Hope!  “I love working with Judi again.  We have not had that many scenes together.   We had a run there and you will not see her for a while.  It’s been great having her back, and the audience digs it, too.  It’s kind of wacky being gone for 19 years and then here we are!  The best part from a character standpoint is; here is this couple that raised these four boys, and now they are at age where the four boys are gone.  They look at each other and go, ‘What do we have?  We were parents and we sort of forgot we were husband and wife.’  Now they are divorced, and what is going to happen next in their lives?  However, I think Justin has fallen in love with Hope, tragically.  It’s not where her head is at, but I do think he had moved on from Adrienne, and he has to confront this.  Hope already conked me over the head with a pistol!  I was her second victim, and we still haven’t found out it’s her, yet.  We are still figuring it out, and we are two months ahead of air!” (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Galen Gering (Rafe), with his beautiful wife Jenna by his side, told me to look for Rafe to come back strong to vie for Sami’s love, even though EJ’s got his evil hooks into her! “Sami is blowin’ it.  So it does not leave me with anything good at the moment.  I will be coming back full force with big news that will shake the place up.  It won’t happen tomorrow, but it will be in the near future.  There is a very strong chance Sami and Rafe can be together, if she ever stops lying to him, that would help.  As far as EJ being in the way, I hope clearly that will not be an obstacle for long.”  But what of the just recently revealed prison break scenes that will air in June between returning DAYS vet Charles Shaughnessy, as ISA Agent Shane Donovan, and Gering?  Galen was astounded.  “So this guy comes in and has a three page monologue.  He says to me, ‘I haven’t been here for 20 years, man.’  And he goes in and knocks this scene out.  I am sitting there as an actor watching this guy going, ‘Wow this dude is amazing!  Whatever he is doing is great.’  Then he walks out and says, ‘Oh, man, I sucked.  I blew up.’  But I am telling you he is great.  As far as the prison material; we have these grand plans to break out of this prison, and then we break back in, and then we break back out, and then we break back in.  We are like, ‘What are we doing?’  Once we are out, shouldn’t we just stay out?”  (Laughs)

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

After the arrivals were concluded, and the hors’d’oeuvres were passed during the cocktail reception, Ken addressed the crowd and made special mentions of Wes Kenny, Gary Tomlin, and Bill Bell.  He then read aloud some excerpts from his memoirs.  I was standing next to Lauren Koslow (Kate) and Alison Sweeney (Sami) who could not help but be touched by seeing out of the corner of their eyes, Drake Hogestyn reaching over and giving his former on-screen nemesis and good buddy, Joseph Mascolo (Stefano) a giant hug.  You see, this was the first time Drake had come out to a DAYS event with so many of his former colleagues since he was let-go from the show.  After Ken had finished his reading, and we all mingled, I went up to Drake to let him know how much everyone was so happy to see him, and me, too.

As I moved through the crowd, I came upon a jovial Mary Beth Evans (Kayla), who we all just learned hours before, was heading back to As the World Turns to reprise her role as Sierra for a short stint, hot on the heels of her return to DAYS for Alice’s memorial in June.  The two of us were joking how when it rains it pours.  And it all sort of came out of the blue … two shows at once, but she could not be happier.  Mary Beth was on her way home that night to pack her bags for New York!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

As the event wound down, the people in attendance lined-up to get Ken to personalize the inside of the hardbound edition of his memoirs.  I waited my turn alongside Joe Mascolo’s wife, former NBC executive Pat Schultz, and Kristian Alfonso.  And, when it was my turn Ken wrote a humorous and thoughtful inscription.  And, as I turned to leave, I just had to revisit the dessert table and grab some red velvet mini-cupcakes for the road.   It was a great night, and time to go.  I was “Dayzed” out! :)

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  1. Sarah says:

    I haven’t watched Days since Drake and Deidre left the show, so it was nice to see Drake finally appear somewhere. But where was Deidre? Not that I think she should have gone, but I would have loved to see these two together again. Actually, they seem to be avoiding each other. What’s up?

    Reply

  2. Anna says:

    Just finished reading this and loved it. I felt as if I were there. Great to hear Drake was there. I have not and will not give up the hope he will return to my favorite she and one I have watched from the first airing.`

    Reply

  3. Kenseysmom says:

    Always great to hear from Galen!! Thanks so much for this!! Give us SAFE fans some real hope :)

    Reply

    Sheri greenblatt replied

    Please get Sami and Raffe back together. I have been watching the show for l9 years. Galen I hope you are on the show forever!

    Reply

    Allison replied

    iieee…what are you thinking?

  4. Doe says:

    What a wonderful night that must have been! It’s great when DOOL actors and their associates and bosses can get together at an event.That provides the fans an inside look from the outside. Ken’s book should be good reading and I hope he will have success with it. Michael, it was wonderful that you could revisit so many of our favorite stars.It was also good to hear that Suzanne Rogers is in remission. This was marvelous reporting and it seemed it was very special to you, Michael. Thanks once again…

    Reply

    Sheri greenblatt replied

    ALLISON SWEENEY WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? I AM NOT SURE IF YOU ARE
    ASKING IF YOU WANT ME TO TELL YOU WHY I THINK YOU SHOULD BE TOGETHER OR YOU ARE JUST BEING ALITTLE RUDE

    Reply

  5. Sunny says:

    LOL Kenseysmom……i c u ;)

    It was a pleasure reading about Galen and not having you know who splatter in my face. Thank you Michael for an interesting read and giving SAFE fans a smile.

    Reply

    rotkopf64 replied

    Yes Sunny & Kenseysmom, it was wonderful to read something positive about Sami & Rafe! Thanks Michael! You did indeed give the SAFE fans something to smile about!

    Reply

  6. Kat says:

    Thanks for your stories about the evening. I enjoyed seeing pictures of Drake. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen him. I also enjoyed the group shots of Kristian, Mary Beth, Drake, Joe Mascolo, and Lauren Koslow. All the pictures, really.

    Glad for Mary Beth that she’s got that short stint on ATWT coming up. I love Mary Beth! Good stuff from Wally, too…But I don’t want Justin and Hope. I’m still rooting for Bo and Hope all the way down the line, and hope those two reunite when the time is right.

    Thank you.

    Reply

  7. AlaNurse says:

    Thanks, Michael. I would loved to have been fortuniate enough to have been there! I want to read the book. Loved reading what my man Galen had to say ……….so there are possibilities!!!!!! YES!!!! SAFE ALL THE WAY!!

    Reply

  8. sara says:

    ive watched dool for over 30 years and am sickened by some of what i see. I really hope sammis charecter wakes up and stops thinking she deserves to get crapped on all the time!! ej is evil which will not change. sammi has made some bad choices but behind most was her need for love and acceptence.rEJect, not so much!! while i miss my lumi, i do enjpy safe as its an aduly relationship, built with time and patience not lies and manipulations!!

    Reply

  9. pinky says:

    Interesting! I really hope that GG is just messing with us. safe bores me to tears.

    Reply

  10. Cindy says:

    Enough of CC on DOOL. She is a mediocre actress that is over rated. I see nothing great about her or her character. There were other characters more worthy that would have added to the soap that should have been brought back instead.

    Reply

    perla replied

    Cindy if you don’t have nothing else to do by talking negative of CC, go get rid of your fustration somewhere else. She is a excellent and actress and wonderful as a person.

    Reply

    bottomchef replied

    If Cindy feels like Chappell is overrated, then she can share that. What is with soap fans, particularly fans of actors who portray queer characters? These actors can be criticized. They’re not exempt bec of who they portray.

    Tracy replied

    Wow Cindy Nasty CC Bashing! Ms. Chappell is a wonderful emma winning actress no way mediocre. You must be a Bo abd Hope fan. Don’t forget CC does not write the show! Chill sister

    Reply

    Faith replied

    I totally agree with Cindy and I am neither a Bo and Hope fan, or Bo fan, or Hope fan. I am a fan of the over all show. Everyone is entitled to their own opionions & likes and dislikes. I personally think Crystal Chappell is a mediocre actress who is way over-rated. Cindy couldn’t have been more right than when she said “There are other characters more worthy” that could and should have been brought back to “Days” instead of Carly. I am tired of Crystal’s rabid fans of jumping all over everyone who does fond over & praise Crystal’s every move like them. They are the ones who need to chill.

  11. kelltwomyn says:

    Thanks for the play-by-play, Michael! Always interesting to read about the “inside” scoop. Crystal’s perspective about the Emmy’s is interesting..she knows how upset folks (and not just her fans!) were when she wasn’t nominated last year. I do hope she is nominated this year. She deserves the recognition.

    Reply

  12. daysfan says:

    Great article Michael. A lot of spoilers! I had no idea you were involved in creating an early Days website.

    Reply

  13. Linda says:

    Man oh man, all I can say is that DRAKE HOGESTYN is a class act! More people could take lessons from him IMO. WAY TO GO DRAKE!

    Reply

  14. Tracy says:

    Wow Emmy winners mean nothing! I am not just a quote rabid CC fan! I am a long time soap watcher and Drama teacher who respects acting. Crystal Chappell is a really good actor. Her many awards prove it!

    Reply

  15. Julie says:

    Another rabid CC fan here and a Gay woman. CC gave an outstanding performance of a woman coming to grips with her love for a nother woman that so many have tried and failed to do. She was able to show the pondering of her emotions, just through her facial expressions, no words needed. She knew how to protray all the emotions for another woman to that woman while the straight world was clueless and she was one of the main reason to fall in love with the Otalia storyline. I’ve seen many stories and performances of Gay storylines in my 32 years being out but CC topped them all by far. No small feet I can assure you.

    Reply

  16. Kat says:

    Nice for you, if you love Crystal. Some do. Others don’t. Everyone’s entitled to think what they think. You don’t have to be a Bo and Hope fan to have less than flattering opinions about the actress’ ability. The hype about her was major when she came aboard, and there are those who feel after watching Carly that she’s just not “all that.” It could be the story, or the interpretation of the character, or whatever.

    Crystal will have her fans who love her and think she’s the greatest actress out there. There will also be Days fans who look at the character and think, “What’s the big deal?” They have their own favorites, and maybe Crystal/Carly is not among them.

    Reply

  17. Megan says:

    Corday once again proves what a knucklehead he is. I think his parents would be disappointed to see what he has done to their show. High ratings? Check again, Kenny.

    Reply

    jane replied

    Glad to hear about the return of shane. When are they going to bring back John and Marlena. The show is just not the same without them

    Reply

  18. Lisa says:

    I can’t wait to get the book, ordered mine on friday, I also wish that Ken would do some signings here in the LA area.

    Reply

  19. debbie says:

    where can I buy the new book of history of days of our lives at? I have watched this show all my life I am now 48 yrs old.

    Reply

  20. Shoe Smitten says:

    Fearless Friday: Pointy Patchwork (Giuseppe Zanotti?) Pumps…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)

  21. Ada says:

    I know I’m way behind on this but as far as EJ not being a factor with Sami for much longer. I sure hope that is WRONG! EJAMI is the only reason I watch Days! EJAMI/James Scott = Days Of Our Lives!

    Reply

    JSFan replied

    Bringing Rafe back and watching SAFE kiss just confirmed to me as it should to the writers and if they are honest with themselves, the actors, that SAFE DOES NOT belong together. EJAMI does and I hope GG is wrong.

    Reply

  22. adam clark says:

    Days was a great, meaningful, very “human” show in the 1980′s, but it completely stinks now. I agree that his parents would be very dissapointed with what he has done with the show. It’s worse than ever and only gets ratings because we live in a stupid, immoral generation where people love to watch smut and worthless trash.

    Reply

  23. Caryn says:

    I can’t wait to get my copy! I also can’t wait to enter this sweepstakes: http://ClassWish.org/Days. Have you guys heard about it? By entering, you win a chance to meet EJ and Stefano, tour the set, and take a picture with them that will appear in Soap Opera Digest. Sounds good to me! ;)

    Reply

  24. Caryn says:

    What would you say to EJ and Stefano if you could meet them in person ON the Days Set! Starting thinking!!!! http://www.classwish.org/days/fame.

    Reply

  25. Caryn says:

    Sorry about that I didn’t mean to seem like a spammer! Accidentally posted the same thing twice – just wanted everyone to know about the great opportunity

    Reply

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