In another New York Times article this weekend on the daytime soap genre, this one by writer/reporter Taffy Brodesser-Akner takes a look at how three of the remaining four daytime soap operas: Days of our Lives, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful have made changes in their storytelling and their budgets to adapt to the downturn in the soap landscape and to keep viewers coming back. According to the article, General Hospital was asked to participate, but declined to comment as part of this piece, so take that as you will.
Interviewed for the Times feature were Days of our Lives star, James Scott (EJ DiMera), Deidre Hall (Marlena), the show’s co-executive producer, Greg Meng, plus NBC’s Senior VP of Current Programming, Bruce Evans. In addition, B&B’s head honcho, Brad Bell, and Y&R’s executive producer and head writer, Maria Arena Bell. Below are some interesting excerpts from the story from some of the soap notables!
DAYS James Scott noted, “Some soaps were able to adapt financially and streamline production, and some were not. It was disappointing when All My Children got canceled. It wasn’t necessary. They failed to come in on time and under budget.” James also told the Times, he and his “Days” co-stars had become used to the quicker pace of shooting. His shooting day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. to avoid overtime, while his friends on All My Children would routinely tape until 8 p.m. “I’ve had a second take on less than 15 scenes out of the last thousand I’ve shot,” he said. Adding to the consistent cancellation rumors of the soaps in general, James added, “Maybe we’ll be canceled in 18 months, but do you know anyone who gets this much notice that they’re going to be fired? If you want stability, go and become a doctor. People always get sick.”
Bruce Evans reassured that DAYS is in a good place and financially healthy and also stating, “Keeping the show on the air makes good business sense for us. The numbers are important, and the numbers are good.” Greg Meng noted how the story of Sami and EJ having grief sex and the fallout has had some light-speed viewer feedback never seen by the series, “We had record-breaking feedback. It got people talking on Twitter, Facebook, in the grocery store. That’s how you create a drama.”
B&B’s Brad Bell talked about the difference in his show from the 80′s to its modern day version, “We’re no longer the schmaltzy, fluffy romance of the ’80s’. Women are more independent and edgier. The dialogue is clever and witty. The old theory says: Keep things moving slowly, because if people are only watching two or three times a week, they need to know what’s happening. Our new theory is: Something has to happen every day, and it’s more important to feel as though you’ve missed something by not watching.”
Finally, Y&R’s Maria Arena Bell added, “The desire for this sort of wholly American art form that you can have a relationship with day after day is still going to be there. If we can weather this storm, then we can ultimately see that the daytime has room for various kinds of programming, just the way prime time does.”
So what do you think about the comments from some of soaps luminaries? Do you feel and see the adjustments the shows creatives are making when viewing your favorite soap at home? Let us know!