Guest Author - Alice Rienzo
Soap Operas are widely known and for their scandalous storylines ... on screen. What viewers may not be aware of is the havoc and mayhem that is taking place behind the scenes. Sources say that head writer Dena Higley is out and co-executive producer, Ed Scott, is said to be bringing in a writing team from another show.
Dena Higley has been a writer at Days of Our Lives on and off since 2003 and has been widely criticized for her lackluster storylines. In addition, she shows no effort to acknowledge a character’s history, which not only infuriates viewers, but also longtime actors. In fact, she was released as head writer at One Life to Live in 2007 because of that reason.
Shortly thereafter, Writer’s Guild of America writers went on strike and all television shows suffered the consequences. Rumors abounded of the impending doom for Days of Our Lives, until someone began writing for the show. Some speculate that Dena Higley picked up the slack and chose financial core status during the strike. She reportedly crossed the picket line and was then known as a ‘scab’.
Amid the upheaval, producers of the show have been in a quandary as to what to do about storylines and writing. Some have suggested that they have left the writing to the actors, while others have said the producers have taken on the task themselves. What isn’t clear though is if Dena Higley was fired, pushed out, or walked out. Another question that comes to light is simply, “Why?”
One reason may be that viewership of the long-running, daytime soap reached an all-time low on June 13, 2008, dipping down to a mere 2 million. With the susder being on the brink of being popped, it is no wonder that executives are in a panic. They cannot afford to lose more fans, lest they not be renewed next season.
However, as a longtime viewer, I can honestly say the writing hasn’t been better in recent years than it has been since shortly after the writer’s strike began. Perhaps Dena Higley has finally found her groove, and that may prove to be more upsetting to execs for the simple reason that they cannot control what she does. If she is faltering, then they have reason not to renew her contract. If she is flying high, they have zero chance of letting her go if they hope to avoid a lawsuit for violating a writer’s contract.
While all this may be rumor only, it just goes to show that some of the best storylines do not occur on the screen.