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Friday, October 31, 2008

Days of Our Lives

Alternative Storyline for Days of Our Lives
Here is the next installment of my alternative storylines for Days of Our Lives.

This is what I previously posted on the NBC Days boards

The newest installment is at

The last two entries aren't in the proper format; I'll fix it later.

If you like what you are reading, please leave me a comment here or on the NBC message boards. Or better yet contact the executive producers at

Gary Tomlin or Ken Corday
Corday Productions
3400 W. Olive Avenue
suite 170 Burbank CA


Monday, October 27, 2008

Alternative Storyline for Days of Our Lives

Here is the next installment of my alternative storylines for Days of Our Lives.

This is what I previously posted on the NBC Days boards

The newest installment is at

If you like what you are reading, please leave me a comment here or on the NBC message boards. Or better yet contact the executive producers at

Gary Tomlin or Ken Corday
Corday Productions
3400 W. Olive Avenue
suite 170 Burbank CA


Monday, October 20, 2008

Days of Our Lives, Romance Novels and Rape

Days of Our Lives, Romance Novels and Rape

Sometimes it's strange how when you ask like a question, you get the answer in the weirdest way. I could never understand why so many were in favor of the pairing of Sami and EJ after the rape. It didn't make sense to me until the universe pointed out an old belief or behavior about women's sexuality.

It has been long believed that only whores or sluts enjoyed sex; good girls and women closed their eyes and pretended to like it because it was their duty as wives and it was the only way to fulfill their purpose in life, which is to birth children. Women were considered property that fathers sold, bartered or gave to the husband. It's only been the last 40 years that woman have had the ability to claim their power, yet the remnants of past beliefs still remain, which is why the subgenre of romance novel that involves women who are kidnapped and raped fall in love with their attacker continues to flourish. It also explains why on Days of our Lives, there is a following for EJamie.

Romance novels have very styled formats. Within two hundred pages, two people fall in love, over come obstacles and then live happily every after. The heroine is in danger. The hero comes to rescue her, thereby putting himself in danger. Throughout the perils, they fall in love. The good guys always win so after the villain is defeated the lovers live happy every after.

However, in this subgenre. There isn’t a hero. Instead, the woman is kidnapped by the villain, who awakens her inner passion by raping her. While the hero is trying to save the woman, she becomes enthralled with the villain, seeing only his good side, so that when she is rescued she remains with her capture because he is her true love. GMAFB!

No matter what you call it, sex is not only a natural part of life, but it can also be a very good time. Yet many woman are still ashamed of their sexuality. They cling to the notion that if they enjoy sex that their morals will be called into question. However, if they are forced, then they are not responsible for enjoying their guilty pleasure.

Rape is not romance, desire or passion; in fact, it is violence and control disguised as a sex act. There is nothing romantic or enticing about having your self-respect, dignity and your inner security ripped from you. The physical trauma may heal, but the emotional damage is life changing and frequently permanent. It is a degradation that many women never emotionally survive.

The Bureau of Justice defines rape as, “Rape - Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means penetration by the offender(s). Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.” Of all the reporting countries, the U.S has the highest rape rate. According the FBI, every two minutes a woman is raped not only by strangers but acquaintances and family members. The National Women’s Study, Rape in America: A Report to the Nation found that 1 in 7 women will be raped by her husband. The website listed the following statistics.

One of the most startling aspects of sex crimes is how many go unreported. The most common reasons given by women for not reporting these crimes are the belief that it is a private or personal matter and the fear of reprisal from the assailant.

Approximately 28% of victims are raped by husbands or boyfriends, 35% by acquaintances, and 5% by other relatives. (Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994)

The FBI estimates that only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.

In 1994-1995, only 251,560 rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials -- less than one in every three. (National Crime Victimization Survey, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.)

An overwhelming majority of rape service agencies believe that public education about rape, and expanded counseling and advocacy services for rape victims, would be effective in increasing the willingness of victims to report rapes to the police. (Rape in America, 1992, National Victim Center with Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center.)

According to the U.S. Department of Justice: (All statistics are taken from: Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)

One of every four rapes take place in a public area or in a parking garage.

31% of female victims reported that the offender was a stranger.

68% of rapes occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

At least 45% of rapists were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In 29% of rapes, the offender used a weapon.

In 47% of rapes, the victim sustained injuries other than rape injuries.

75% of female rape victims require medical care after the attack.

My question is why would writers promote rape as romance when it is anything but? As a storyline it would be a great way to address the issue and create social awareness to both the devastation and the healing process. Not only promoting rape as romance socially irresponsible, but it also creatively discredits the writer. Why would women want to read or watch a TV show about another woman being raped, must less expecting her to fall in love with her rapist?

As long as women see themselves as second class citizens and powerless, they will not be able to claim their power as women or as individuals. Instead they will remain victim to the whims of the others, instead become mistresses of their own destinies. There are so many wonderful romances available that are based on real romance, suspense and drama, why would a woman read a book or watch a show that is written to degrade her and make her feel powerless?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Days of Our Lives: EJ Wells DiMera AKA James Scott

Days of Our Lives: EJ Wells DiMera AKA James Scott

EJ Wells DiMera has become one of the most controversial characters in recent soap history. Originally presented as a mysterious jet-setting race car driver, he arrives in Salem with an agenda that quickly becomes apparent when he exposed to be son of Susan Banks and Stefano DiMera. It is later revealed that Stefano sent EJ to Salem to plant the DiMera seed in a Brady woman and carry out Santo’s vendetta against the Brady family.

From the Black glove crimes to the rape of Sami Brady to all the other acts of violence in between and since, EJ has become an all or nothing character. Viewers either love him or hate him. Both sides are equally passionate and rabid at the same time.

The Ejamies, as the fans who favor the couple Sami and EJ are called, have glossed over, excused and ignored EJ’s behavior and criminal acts. They habitually read between the lines of the dialogue and character behavior to suit their own point of view. For them Ejamie is the endgame, even if it means the end of the Days. In spite of what was said both on the show and interviews by actors, they refuse to see that EJ raped Sami. After two years, the debated is just as heated as when it first began. His fans dismissed or excused his other crimes . For months, many refused to believe that EJ shot John. They blamed Teck or an unknown shooter, even through there was video proving the contrary. It wasn’t until EJ was tricked by John into admitting it, that the controversy ended. Another tactic is to point out the crimes and bad behavior of other characters as a way to excuse EJ. One person’s bad behavior doesn’t excuse another’s bad behavior.

On the other side is the Sami and Lucas fans, who are called Lumi. They are equally as passionate and stubborn about their favorite couple. However, I have yet to read one statement by a Lumi wishing the show would be canceled if Sami and Lucas weren’t together. Sami and Lucas have a long history together as friends, lovers and adversaries. Their relationship has been bumpy to say the least; however, most of their problems were caused by outside forces, including EJ and Kate Roberts, Lucas’s mother. When I do Lucas’s character profile, I will go into more details. But this is not the time or place; the focus of this piece is on EJ.

I see EJ Wells-DiMera as a complex character who is at war with himself. He is more than a handsome face with a cool accent nor is he just Stefano’s pawn. EJ’s formative years were spent with his mother, Susan Banks and step-father, Edmund Crumb. Although Susan could be best described as unique, she had a kind heart and loved EJ very much. When she escaped with him to England, it was her way of protecting him from Stefano’s influence. It was Susan and Edmond’s influence during his first five years which gave EJ his core values and ability to love.

When or how Stefano gained custody would make a wonderful storyline It seems the writers are over looking this character developing plot; however, it is one that I will be using in the near future in my alternative universe storylines. Stefano is manipulative and controlling, whose love is conditional on him receiving total loyalty and subservience. To question Stefano is to be disloyal to him, thereby bringing down his wrath. Although EJ was the crowned prince to Stefano’s empire, he was taught that he was easily replaceable as Stefano played Andre and EJ off one another. Through this endless competition, EJ leaned to set aside what he learned in his childhood in order to survive. To be safe, he needed to be ruthless and heartless towards his enemies, while controlling those he cared about so that they could not be used against him.

While the core of his personality longed for the family he had in childhood, his conscious mind decided to set that dream aside. To bury it along with all the memories and feelings he had for his mother and Edmond. Whether it was a single event or a series, EJ chose to follow Stefano’s example, by taking what he wanted and the consequences were irrelevant because he was a DiMera. His new philosophy became that to love or need another was to give them power over you, which is not the DiMera way. Instead of asking and risking rejection, the DiMera way was to lie, manipulate and control; thereby retaining power and domination over others.

EJ might have been interested in Sami at the beginning, but it was not the reason he became obsessed with her. Stefano wanted a direct heir with a Brady woman. It was the one thing that Stefano wanted that only EJ could give him. Tony wasn’t a blood son. Andre was a nephew. If EJ could fulfill this one thing, he could permanently gain Stefano’s favor and insure his rise to the head of the DiMera family. However, the reality of having a child was much different than what EJ expected. It awakened and re-energized his early childhood memories. Suddenly he was no longer just Stefano’s pawn, but he was also his mother’s son. By seeing the innocence in Johnny’s eyes, he was reminded what it was like to be loved and loved unconditionally--hence, the inner turmoil and outer obsession.

EJ thought the strength to break away from Stefano came from Sami and Johnny. However, it was his own true self emerging--the part that learned trust and love through his mother. When the aspect remerged, the war within EJ began. He doesn’t love Sami for Sami, but for what she represents. Through her, EJ cannot only please his father but she also gives him the family his heart wants. The problem is that EJ knows that the family isn’t real. No matter what he has done, Sami loves Lucas and will always go back to him. In addition, EJ can’t get past the rape himself. Whenever he looks at Sami and Johnny, part of him remembers that December night and the pain he caused. As long as EJ tries to force a relationship with Sami, he will not be free from his past. She will always represent Stefano’s control over him and the pain he caused to so many, including Sami. It will only by releasing Sami and moving on will EJ be able to find peace within himself and a balance between his two halves.

As a character, EJ is best when his wears a gray hat. He will never be the hero, but he also is not good at being a true villain. The problems is that the writers took him too far dark, then tried instantly redeem him into a hero. Stefano is a villain. John is a hero. EJ needs to find his own niche between them. EJ is capable of great love, but he can also be very naughty.

Days of Our Lives 10-16-2008

Here is the next installment of my alternative storylines for Days of Our Lives.

This is what I previously posted on the NBC Days boards

If you like what you are reading, please leave me a comment here or on the NBC message boards. Or better yet contact the executive producers at

Gary Tomlin or Ken Corday
Corday Productions
3400 W. Olive Avenue
suite 170 Burbank CA


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Michigan-Tax Credits for Movie Makers

Will movie law boost last?

LANSING (AP) -- Six months after Michigan began handing out the nation's most generous moviemaking incentives, results are surpassing lofty expectations.

Studios that had planned to shoot elsewhere turned on a dime and flocked here, bringing stars such as Val Kilmer and Drew Barrymore with them. The number of scripts approved by the state film office is up 20-fold over last year. Hotels, caterers and other businesses are cashing in on new economic activity.

Somerset Inn in Troy hired 15 to 20 extra full-time workers to handle film crews after Clint Eastwood's Malpaso Productions booked office space and close to 90 rooms a night for most of the summer while filming "Gran Torino" across the Detroit area.

The hotel has welcomed smaller crews, too, and has solid leads on more movie industry clients for next year at a time conference hotels are losing dollars because of cutbacks in automotive sales seminars and the poor economy.

"It's incremental business we certainly wouldn't have had if they didn't sign this legislation," said Duane Swanson, Somerset Inn's operations director. "You couldn't ask for a better hotel guest to come in. They're not afraid to spend a buck."

Neither is state government -- to the chagrin of Republican lawmakers who are having second thoughts about the measure signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm in April.

To entice filmmakers to choose Michigan over other competing states, the Legislature passed bills creating refundable tax credits of up to 42 percent for in-state movie production expenses.

Giving businesses tax credits is nothing new, and such credits can reduce a company's tax bill to little or nothing.

But refundable credits go further. They're more like a rebate for production expenses and can require the state to cut the moviemaker a check.

The Senate Fiscal Agency estimates the state has approved $394 million in production expenses that will cost the government $122 million after accounting for the sales and income tax revenue generated by film crews.

That's six times the increases of up to 2 percent the state gave public universities and community colleges this budget year.

Sen. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac, said traditional Michigan businesses are paying higher taxes while "we turn around and send a check to somebody from Hollywood, some Pee-wee Herman type. I think that's very hard to justify."

Michigan Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Jim Holcomb said lawmakers should reduce the Michigan Business Tax -- to which a 22 percent surcharge was added to fill a budget deficit -- and "stop handing out unaffordable tax breaks to out-of-state Hollywood filmmakers who are unlikely to make Michigan their permanent business location."

But not every filmmaker is from Hollywood, and there's no doubt the incentives are bringing movie companies and jobs to the economically sluggish state.

Cinepro Pictures Studios was set to film "The Steam Experiment" in Florida because that's where the company is located. But it shot the independently produced thriller in Grand Rapids after hearing about the incentives.

"The decision was purely financial," said Karinne Behr, an executive producer of the movie starring Kilmer and Armand Assante. "Michigan's incentives are definitely the strongest. Hopefully that will be a great success story for the state. It's better to spend the money here than overseas."

Behr said $3 million of the movie's $7 million budget was spent in Michigan.

The Michigan Film Office has approved tax breaks for more than 60 movies this year and next. Just two or three films were made in 2007.

The question, it seems, is whether a truly lasting industry is being hatched in Michigan.

Critics depict the business as fleeting because other states may increase their incentives to keep pace. They say moviemakers like to bring in people from California and elsewhere to make the movies, and add that filmmaking accounts for a minuscule portion of Michigan's overall economy.

But in a state that has shed 479,000 payroll jobs -- 10 percent of its work force -- since state employment peaked in June 2000, anything that brings in jobs and new businesses is seen as a plus by many.

And while the state has nowhere near enough infrastructure to support all the new films, it's further along than Louisiana, New Mexico and Massachusetts were at this point when they began luring the industry, said Anthony Wenson, chief operating officer of the Michigan Film Office.

He pointed out that Michigan once made more commercials and industrial training films than anywhere in the world, and said existing studios are being transformed to welcome the motion picture business.

"Not only are we finding many people getting into the business for the first time but we're also seeing people who left the state to get into the industry moving back into Michigan," he said.

So far, the GOP-controlled Senate has been unable to get enough votes for a bill that would cap film credits at no more than $50 million a year. Granholm, Democrats and some Republicans fiercely oppose the measure and say the bipartisan law approved by all but one of 148 legislators needs time to work, even if it could cost the state.

Job training classes are being held for people interested in the business, and producers qualify for more tax breaks if they hire in-state grips, camera operators and other "below the line" crew.

The film office expects to talk with Michigan State University about potentially developing a film program. Anticipating more work, some smaller sound studios have announced plans to expand.

The state still is awaiting the arrival of big new soundstages that provide more efficient one-stop shopping for the production of movies and TV shows and could allow Michigan moviemaking year-round rather than seasonally.

But Wenson said the state is talking frequently with interested investors.

"The true measure will be two years into this," he said. "It's taken Louisiana almost four years to really pull together ... and be able to say, 'This is a true, viable industry in our state.' Michigan is in this for the long haul."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Saving Days of Our Lives from Cancelation

For generations Days of Our Lives has been not only much loved but the top rated Daytime soap, being the leader in suspense, drama, romance, and comedy, as well as social issues. As the sand fell through the hour glass, we laughed, cried and waited with baited breath for Monday as the cliffhanger left us dangling on Friday. We had a our favorite heroes and villains--couples we cheered for and those we knew who were doomed for failure.

From the Horton and the Bradys to villainous DiMeras, the writers and actors helped us suspend our disbelief through obsessions and possessions. The brain child of Ted Corday, Betty Corday and Irna Phillips, it premiered in 1965. In the decades, since it has become a TV icon that has been satirized and vilified by those who don’t understand the gothic romance nature of the soap. The Cordays never intended for Days to just meet the industry or viewer expectations but to always exceed them by taking their storylines past the limits and breaking the old taboos. Although it was always cutting edge, it was based on the love of family and friends.

However, in the last couple of years, the decline in the writing has been followed by a decline in the rating, bringing the long soap to the brink of cancellation. Even long time fans, who inherited the love of the show from their mothers and grandmother, were turned off by the lack of suspense, drama, and romance. They missed the humor and the weekly cliffhangers, which had been replaced by the never ending triangles and the destruction of beloved couples.

The random murder of beloved characters brought the wrath of viewers down on the executive producers forcing them to rewrite the storyline in such a ways as to say--just kidding folks. It was the beginning of a long line of poorly thought out and badly written storylines that have made it tied for last place in the ratings. Day’s fans can be rabid and obsessive, but they remain loyal until given good reasons not to be.

My mother got my hooked on Dark Shadows back in the late 1960’s. When it was canceled she moved on to Days of Our Lives and I followed. I have been a fan since Doug and Julie were the super-couple. I grew up with Hope and Bo, cried when Tom Horton died, laughed with Eugene--was severely annoyed to see my favorite character Renee DiMera being carried out feet first. I missed two days and it took me decades to actually learned how she died. Back then the stories were forward moving; they didn’t try to exist on flashbacks.

I know the characters and the history, which is why when the current writers proved they didn’t have a clue into either I started writing an alternative universe Salem and posting it on the NBC message boards. It was out of frustration and anger at being treated like an idiot that made me take the time to create my own storylines. Originally, I wasn’t taking it seriously. I had my novels to write and I had just started my own publishing house. Time was a premium, but I just wasn’t willing to let go of one of the constants in my life.

The postings have a great many typos; plus, the formatting didn’t properly transfer. But it was fun and it didn’t matter. However, the other posters really liked my work. Not only did they ask me to continue, but also suggested that I contact Ken Corday for the head writer gig.

Wow!!! That was excellent! And you soooooo got NuJohn's speech down pat! In the past I would have said there was no way we'd get something like this...but, Days has been getting better, so who knows?

I'm not a Celeste fan but you have me intrigued. LOL I want to hear more about what is going on at the mansion. lol

Oh and once it's all finished, save it, print it out & send it to Burbank. I bet once you finish it that it's better than anything the head writer now can come up with.

This story line is way better than the crappy ones that are on the show at this moment. I'm sick of Dool these days I would much rather watch this than what's on right now.

I've been outta town all weekend, so I just got a chance to read...great job!! All the characters are right on point! I'm guessing the lady is Kristen? Not sure, but my only guess right now. Thanks for the great entertainment!!

I love it you are an amazing writer, it is so suspenseful and i really wish days would do something like this, please finish it oh and your John humor is right on

that story line is GREAT!!! i need for Days to hire you for a writer. Is it Daphne??? Wow very good. Someone call DH and tell her, we have someone for some additional ideas for writing, that won't jack it up like Sheff!

I am sooooo intrigued!!!! You have GOT to continue this story!!!! I would LOVE to see this play out on screen - too bad TPTB couldn't come up w/ something this great.. You are a brilliant writer ~ I can't wait to see what happens next!

Girl, I think you DO have a chance in hell! I have watched Days for 25 years or so, and this is some of the best s/l's & dialect I have seen in a looooong time! You really capture the "feel" of the show and the characters personalities! I LOVE that you are involving all the characters! I LOVE that you have wonder and suspense - with this mystery woman and the "haunted" part of the house. I LOVE that Doug will be singing again! And I am happy to see Lucas back - yay!

SERIOUSLY - if I were you I would submit this ASAP! LOVE IT!!!! BRAVO!

It’s like a Klingon and a tribble.

You can remember an episode of Star Trek, but you can’t remember your family.

the best lines.. love what you have NuJohn say

Bo & Roman talking about trophy funny too.

Elvis, I see you spared no expense when it came to the ring. How long were you at the gumball machine?

Not the Scotch!

I loved reading this story. You had all of the characters down so well. Nice job. I can't wait to read the rest.

Renee alive.. what will Tony do

I choose to believe she's not alive, lol. And if she is he'd stay with Anna. EJ's already been married off to Ava and lost Little Johnny, I'd hate to see my other couple get broken up too, lol.

I really like your writing. You have a lot of great ideas that I would love to see on the show.

I really think they should hire you for the show as the head writer. Since I see a lot of your stuff any way on the show it really is to bad that you aren't getting paid for it.

One of the main things that I like is that with your writing I have been able to read the whole thing with all the characters that you have involved with your story. Were as with the show I fast forward a lot through it.

I wish you good luck, and hope that you get the job!!

Oh, I am so disappointed that you won't go on writing. But, I do understand why and I agree !! No sense in any one getting the credit when it is yours.

I have enjoyed this so much, I have told my sister all about this story line and she keeps asking me more and wanting more!
Thank you so much for what you have wrote.

I have cleaned up and reformatted the script, converting it into a PDF file. What was posted already on the NBC boards can be found at

I will be adding to it in the near future but only on this blog--unless Ken Corday can be persuaded to hire me then you will see it on the screen.

I would very much like comments and feedback.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Writing and Producing a Soap Opera

Writing and Producing Soap Operas

Soap Opera Storylines

Soap operas storylines have a 13 week rotation schedule which is based on one primary, 2-3 secondary and multiple filler plots. Although primary storyline may contain several sub-plots, there is one central theme or question that runs through from beginning to end. Unlike movies, soaps and all continuing series have plots that are designed to over lap; it is this intertwining of stories that keeps the show running indefinitely.

Over the decades the format has become very styled and fixed; the timeline is broken in to thirds. During the first third, the primary characters are introduced and the conflict is launched. In the middle third the conflict is developed by adding sub-plots, which gives both helpful and misleading details. The final third is the resolution to the conflict. Even though the portions are listed as being in thirds, they are rarely expressed in equal lengths of time. More often than not it is the middle section that is the longest and contains the most drama.

Each storyline has five sections: beginning, mid-point, body of the story, conflict resolution and the denouement (also call the end of the end). In the beginning, characters are introduced and the conflict identified. At the mid-point a crisis develops that forces the main character to make decisions. The body of the story is where the main characters works through the conflict. The conflict resolution is just that; the characters must face the challenge with either a positive or negative result. Denouement is French for end of the end. It is the last of the story that gives a hint to what will happen in the future. Not all stories have this tail at the end, but I think it is a nice touch In soaps, the denouement, becomes the basis of the next storyline that will involve the characters. The beginning and the mid-point will usually be found in the first third. The characters are introduced and the conflict is set up. The middle third contains the mid point and most of the body of the story. This section contains the clues--both real and false, the subplots, and character development. The body contains the bulk of the story. It gives dimension to the characters and adds suspense, by heightening the drama as the characters are forced to make decisions which limit or change their options. A correctly written conflict is best describes as staircase. With each step, more information is given, but also options are limited. The conflict resolution, including the crisis moment and solution, and the denouement will be contained in the third section. However, in soaps, the end is never the end, but the beginning of another storyline.

The primary storyline is the one that is front and center. It consumes the most air time and resources of the show. However its development is very specifically controlled to maximize suspense and keep the viewers coming back. Usually the primary story airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Fridays used to be the cliffhanger day that left the viewer hanging, insuring they that they would be back on Monday. The first part of Monday was to resolve the tense moment from the week before, while the second half started the story moving forward. Wednesdays are also hump days for storylines. They are designed to keep the plot moving forward and set up the viewer for the cliffhanger on Friday.

Secondary storylines air on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Although there may be two or three, one will be favored and will become the next primary storyline once the current one is resolved. Usually at the mid point which is about week seven, one of the secondary stories will be accelerated. However, it’s own clock will not started until it takes center stage.

Filler stories are plots that have just begun to form or scenes that are character building. They are unstructured and can be placed any where time needs to be filled or a character needs to be developed. Although they may seem like fluff, in reality they are a very important parts of the soap structure.


Soaps, like all scripts written for commercial television, have four different versions: creative, working, shooting and post production.

The creative script is very much like a stage play. It contains the dialogue, some stage direction, and the scene transitions. But very little else. It is the starting point and ending reference point for every episode.

The working script is more detailed. The page is divided into two columns; one for the audio or what the audience will hear, the other half contains what they will see. The audio describes what audience will hear--dialogue, music, special effects, etc. The video half explains what is happening on the screen. It has all the blocking of the actors and the props. It is the equivalent of the storyboard in movies.

Shooting scripts are used primarily by the directors and techs; however, the cast also finds the information useful. . This script list the specific shots for each camera and in what order the cameras will be used as well as what the camera need to focus on. The director along with the audio tech, stage manager and camera operators will organize the shots and the lighting after watching the rehearsal. Although the director preside over the set, the cast does have input into the blocking and their characters portrayal. Television is not only a team sport, but it is also an interdependent activity. In spite of the egos, the cast and crew do need to work together in order to create a quality product.

Both the working and shooting scripts are organized for convenient and efficient production. All scenes that use one set will be shot together and edited to be in their proper order. These scripts are also the time keepers for the episode. During rehearsal the scenes are timed in order to keep the proper flow and to keep the episode within the broadcast time limits.

Post Production is where the individual shots are edited together into a complete scene. Music, special effects and credits are added. The scenes are then edited together into a complete package that will fit into the broadcast format for time and commercial breaks.

Broadcast Standards for Hour TV Shows

Even though a show technically fills an hour, the show itself is not an hour long. Commercials take up from six to eight minutes of air time in order to make a profit.

Not only does the FCC still regulate the amount of advertising that can be shown in entertainment shows, but they also have standards that the stations must comply with.
Stations are legally required to identify themselves at the top and bottom of the hour; however, they have a two minutes margin on either side in order to meet the standard. The identification must include the station’s call letters and location. During sweeps weeks, most stations also identify themselves at the quarter hour in order to insure their station receives the proper credit for the viewers.

The amount of advertising breaks in a show depends on the target audience. Children’s programming is more restrictive; not only is the advertising time shorter, but there has to be a very clear separation between programming and ad. Advertising for adults or general audience programming is not as restrictive, but the time is also limited to 6 minutes during the half hour plus the 1 1/2 minutes between, which leave only 22 minutes for actual show time.

In soaps, there are breaks at the top, bottom, and around the quarter hour. In addition there is also a floating break. At the bottom of the hour there are is actually closer to a three minute break which is split between the network and the local station. It is the reason for the five second bumper that states the show will be continuing. The second half hour continues with the same format of three breaks during and the one at the end.

Soaps are a for profit business. However, each time they break away for advertising, they risk loosing their audience, which is why the pace and flow are so important when it comes to the writing, directing and editing. It is the reason why scenes are cut at climatic moments for commercials and why a well written show ends with a cliffhanger. If you keep the view hungry for more, they will keep coming back to the table.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Daytime Soap Operas: Bringing Back Storylines Based on Suspense, Drama and Romance

Daytime Soap Operas: Bringing Back Storylines Based on Suspense, Drama and Romance

Saving Days of Our Lives

What Daytime Soap Operas have lost is the suspense, drama and romance that came from creative and unique storylines. Instead of focusing on the plots, the writers have chosen to fixate on sensationalism by seeing just how far they can go sexually on the screen. This has turned the shows into little more than glorified soft porn, without plots and character development. No longer do Fridays have cliffhangers that torture the viewer as they are kept anticipating what would happen on Monday, because the shows have become merely random scenes thrown together as excuses to show sex. They no longer have the continuity either in shows' history or with character development. The producers and writers no longer have regard for romance, family or humor as they concentrate on spreading forbidden love and graphic sex across the screen.

Unlike other entertainment mediums, soaps aren't meant to have a beginning, middle and end. The storylines were designed to be on a 13-week rotation, during which time the drama and suspense built to a conclusion for the good or ill of the primary characters. At about the half way point, the next primary storyline would be launched so that it would be ready to be moved to the front burner when the current one was completed. This format has made soaps successful for decades with extremely loyal fan bases that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Generally, there was one primary storyline, two secondary, one of which will be become the next primary, and several continuing character-developing plots that are used as filler. Although the primary storyline received the most airtime, the secondary and the filler plots were used to create scene breaks that generated tension and extended the story. Although very frustrating for the viewer to have the scenes suddenly cut at the height of the drama, it also kept her or him coming back. It is the same concept for the overlapping storylines. By the time, the first one has reached its conclusion, the viewer has already been hooked by the next storyline and the process begins again.

What the producers and writers don't realize is that they don't have to compete with cable by sexually titillating the viewers in order for the shows to gain ratings. The grandmothers and mothers, who made soaps popular on television didn’t call them soap operas, but considered them their stories. They had to run home or rush through their housework to watch “their stories“. The adventures and romances that the characters experienced is what kept them coming back five days a week. The cliffhanger Fridays left them speculating and talking about the soap over the weekend. In the time before VCRs, Mondays and Fridays were the most important days to soap viewer. Tuesday through Thursday built up the tension to that last five minutes on Friday. It was these last five minutes on Friday, when lives hung in the balance, as the gun was fired that set the tension that forced the viewer to tune in on Monday to learn whether the bullet hit or missed--if the character lived or died that gave soaps their popularity.

Some soaps didn’t wait for Fridays to torture their viewers. Dark Shadows kept their viewers on a very short leash. Every episode left the viewers hanging. In addition, they did not use flashbacks. If a view missed, they were simply screwed, which is why the viewers were so loyal. Dark Shadows never coasted when it came to their storylines. Their plots and characters were continually in forward motion. It is what kept their viewers loyal and miserable when they missed. Cancelled in 1970 due to protests by religious groups, Dark Shadow conventions are still very popular, usually selling out nearly immediately. The stars are still very beloved. When the Sci-fi channel was launched, Dark Shadows was one of its cornerstone programs, which gave it a whole new generation of fans.

The most popular and long lasting storylines aren’t the ones that involve sex, but the plots that touch people’s heart by making them laugh, cry or want to get involved. Days of Our Lives had two opportunities to deal with the emotional, spiritual and physical issues after rape. In one case, they had the victim have romantic feelings for her attacker. In the case of campus rapist, they dodged the emotional trauma of the victims by having them being involved with the rapist death. In both cases, the writers chose not to address the emotional trauma of the victims. The Autism story is shaping up in a similar way; instead of focusing on the stress, guilt and confusion of a family dealing with an autistic child, the writers talk about money issues. Falling in love, losing love or not being able to find love is the backbone of soap operas. But it is more than just leaping into bed. The romance in soap also involves the humor, misunderstandings, and confusion. It’s a long winding path with twist and turns that keep the characters and the viewers guessing that keeps the show popular.

The decline in the rating of the soap operas rests solely on the shoulders of the producers and the writers. The advancements on the technical side have given the special effects and sets more versatility, but it means nothing if the viewers don’t care about the characters or are bored with the stories. It is the reason the ratings have dropped, thereby affecting the revenues of the networks, which is why the genre is on the decline. It is not the fault of the viewer, the actors or the technical staff, but the powers that be who chose to flash over substance and sex over romance.

All of which brings me to the reason I am writing this. I have been a Days of Our Lives fan for decades. For the past few years, the quality in the writing has sharply decline to the point it is on the verge of being cancelled. Several months ago, I started writing an alternative universe for Salem in protest to the bad writing. It was posted on the NBC fan board, where suddenly it became very popular even though it was first draft and had errors in it. It wasn’t until the posters started asking me to submit it to the producers that I started taking it seriously. They said it was much better than what they were watching on their screens. I cleaned it up and sent it in. I want the Head Writer job. After the mess the current HW has made, I can’t promise to make Days number one again--I can’t even guarantee to keep it from being canceled. What I do promise is to return suspense, drama and romance to Days. I promise to torture the viewers with cliffhangers not only on Fridays, but also on as many days during the week as I’m allowed.

If you go to, you can read what I have written thus far. If you like it and would like it on your screen, please contact the executive producers and ask them to hire writers who not only want Days to succeed, but who also have the creative talent to make it happen.

NBC Studios
3000 W. Alameda Ave
Burbank, CA 91523

Leave a message on the Days Hotline:


Ken Corday, Executive Producer
Gary Tomlin, Executive Producer
NBC Studios
3000 W. Alameda Ave
Burbank, CA 91523

Phone: 1-818-840-4444 (main switchboard)
Fax: 1-818-840-4968

Days of Our Lives Spoiler: Murder in Salem That Will be No Mystery

Days of Our Lives Spoiler: Murder in Salem That Will be No Mystery

Murder in Salem That Will Be No Mystery

Days of our Lives is setting up the murder of Trent. The suspects have already been lined up; each threatening to kill him for their own reasons. But in short, who cares?

Trent Robbins is a physics professor who appears in Salem initially to be Nick's advisor. However, later it is learned that he is Max's biological father and part of Nicole's past. In the months Trent has been on the air, he has gone from being a dead beat dad to someone who would pimp out his daughter to pay his gambling debts. Along the way he has pissed off a good portion of the Salemites.

Recently, it was released that the character would be murdered (Again, I say-who cares?) and Salem will be embroiled in a great murder mystery. However, there will not be much mystery for those who are long time soap fans. The writers have already telegraphed their moves.

The suspects:

Max Brady--He hated Trent for deserting him as a child and abusing his mother. In addition, after he found his half-sister, he learn that Trent attempted to pimp her out to pay his gambling debt.

Melanie--Trent's daughter now hates him for lying about having a brother and using her to try to pay his debts.

Caroline Brady--Max is her son, even if she didn't give birth to him. Trent hurt and continues to hurt him. Like any Mama Bear, she is rising up to protect her young.

Nick--Trent is threatening to expose Max's help in receiving Nick's grant, thereby discounting all of Nick's work, which would cost him his grant.

John Black-DiMera--Trent made the moves on Marlena, which triggered John's jealousy. John is becoming increasing unstable; the blackouts are just around the corner, opening the door to John not remembering what he did during the time Trent was murdered.

Marlena Black--Trent has been harassing her trying to force he into a relationship. She has repeatedly told him to buzz of, but like any pest he didn't listen, so she has threatened to squash him.

Nicole--Trent used and abused her in the past, deserting her when she needed him the most. From the get-go she hated him. However, that hate deepened the more he manipulated her. He revealed that he had never divorced her, which meant that she was never legally married to Victor. The revelation cost her the divorce settlement.

The unnamed bookie--It has been revealed that Trent is a compulsive gambler, who is heavy into debt to those who break legs for fun.

All of those listed above have threatened to kill Trent; hence the so called murder mystery. However, there isn't a mystery.

Caroline will think Max did it so she will try to cover it up. implicating himself.

Max will think Melanie did it so he will try to cover it up, implicating himself.

Stephanie will think Max did it so she will lie and in doing so make Max look more guilty. She will has her Papa to find the real killer. Steve PI will be led to the gambling underworld where he will unravel Trent's gambling history.

Nick will be a suspect because of his motive as well as he will be seen in the area; however, he will be quickly moved from the suspect list to the witness list.

Chelsea will come to his defense, trying to get Nick back. She will lie in order to give Nick an alibi that he doesn’t actually need; thereby, putting him back on the suspect list.

John will see Trent threatening/making another pass at Marlena. Marlena and Trent will fight. Marlena will be knocked unconscious. When she wakes up, John will be incapacitated-either unconscious or in a trance. Trent will be dead. Marlena will get John out of there, thinking he killed Trent. She will be briefly be a suspect. John won’t remember anything until the crucial moment when he gets his memory back.

Nicole will be a prime suspect because of the money and the marriage. However, EJ will come to her rescue when he digs in to Trent’s past and learns that yes they were divorced and Victor still has to give her the money. However, this will happen after there is some question about Trent being the father of Nicole’s baby and EJ revealing that he doesn’t care--he loves her anyway.

However, the identity of the murder will come will come out of left field. Steve’s investigation will lead him into the gambling underworld; however, it will also reveal Melanie’s mother and the true murderer . Melanie’s mother will appear in town if she isn’t there already. No it isn’t Nicole. But a meek, mousy woman who has been abused by Trent for years. She will finally gain the backbone to put an end to Trent’s abusing her daughter by killing him dead.