I’m not the biggest soap opera buff, but I do have a special place in my heart for DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Airing adjacent to many of my favorite NBC game shows growing up, I’d often watch at least a few scenes. Years later, when a friend shared an apartment with an uber fan who eventually became one of the show’s writers, I got invested in the storyline enough that I briefly became one of “those” kind of fans–you know, the type George Carlin would mock that needed to drop everything to “see what’s going on with my STOOOORIES”? Well, I never got that addicted, but I did know Don and Marlena from Luke and Laura.
And later still, I got to work on projects for the show as Sony lobbied intensely to take the show into its second half-century, eventually joining the more successful GENERAL HOSPITAL with that distinction. I worked tenaciously with several of the show’s internal supporters as we deflected the obvious–in a universe where the number of daytime network soaps had been whittled down to just four, DOOL was an exceptionally weak fourth, and a bastard child to the NBC affiliates who openly campaigned against its presence on the schedule, an outlier amidst talk shows and news since it became the network’s sole soap in 2007.
Yet because of the show’s legacy and its formidable strength in many international markets, Sony management considers it a high business priority. Perhaps not as much as Corday Productions alleged when it filed a $20M lawsuit against Sony in early 2019, which, per Wikipedia, alleges that Sony Pictures had forced Corday (which maintains a revenue-sharing arrangement to split any profits and production costs in excess of the budget, the latter of which is financed by NBC) to absorb budgetary production deficits, had provided them with inaccurate accounting, had failed to offer the show for distribution in certain foreign markets (including the United Kingdom and France) and had failed to pay profits within the eight-figure range as well as to negotiate a license fee with NBC that incurs a “reasonable profit” for Corday, while negotiating a more favorable license fee from CBS for its carriage of The Young and The Restless (even as Corday’s share of distribution revenues decreased by over 50% in recent years). Corday also alleged that Sony Pictures executives have expressed indifference to Days of Our Lives, claiming that Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Tony Vinciquerra said the soap is no longer a priority for the company and is “hanging by a thread.”
Eventually, they kissed and made up, especailly when Sony continued to figure out ways to keep in going in spite of increasingly waning support from stations, who often moved it into lesser time slots where possible, and even when NBC elected to move it full-time to Peacock last fall. Earlier this year, in spite of neglible evidence that the show has any material impact on Peacock’s delivery or subscribers, a renewal that was supposed to take the show to its 60th anniversary in 2025 was secured.
I say supposed, because now there’s one more name that more people now know about that I did, one who I was repeatedly reminded we should humor if we had to deal with him. As the ever-intrepid Nellie Andreeva of DEADLINE reported earlier this month:
According to multiple sources, there has been shock, disbelief, disappointment and anger among cast and crew following the outcome of an internal investigation into misconduct allegations against longtime Days of Our Lives director/co-executive producer Albert Alarr.
According to sources, the nine-week investigation, launched in March, was triggered by a complaint related to a recent round of layoffs. Filed by a female employee, it alleged that women had been disproportionally impacted by the cuts and were not receiving equal pay on the show, people close to the matter said.
According to people who have observed Alarr’s behavior since he joined the popular soap, issues had been present for years but escalated after he was named co-executive producer in 2015. In the position of power, multiple DoOL insiders say, Alarr has been abusive, making people feel uncomfortable and humiliated.
“He became much more tyrannical, I think he became much more aware of his unilateral power, and that Ken wasn’t going to be involved in decision-making. And I think [Alarr] took the ball and ran with it, and I think it’s ruined the show,” a DoOL veteran said.
Former cast member Lisa Rinna commented on the reports Wednesday, saying that the work environment she experienced when she returned as a guest star on the series in 2018 was “disgusting.”
Fellow former cast member Peter Reckell also spoke out about the allegations, writing on Twitter: “We have learned disturbing news about the environment at [‘Days of Our Lives’]. It’s shocking to all who care deeply about the show, its legacy, and the audience who love it so much. With quick resolution, I hope to see a return to its past values of family and respect for all.”
For the record, my dealings were exclusively with people loyal to Ken Corday, whose parents created the show and from my personal experience has never been anything but a professional and a mensch. Adarr was quietly referenced as otherwise. If I knew about him, I’m certainly others did as well. And if an oversexed liposuctioned Real Housewife considers him “disgusting”, one would have thought at some point someone might have wanted to look into it.
But funny thing is, when shows that have layers of distancing from corporate HR, and, in this case, geographic distancing (DAYS still tapes on the former NBC lot in Burbank, Sony is housed in Culver City), as long as shows are raking in cash, there is often indifference. Ellen DeGeneres raged like a lunatic for decades on her Warner Brothers syndicated talk show, but only when her ratings decline accelerated early in the pandemic did reports finally surface about it. A similar unfolding of truths unfolded as staffers on Kelly Clarkson’s NBCU talk show spoke out against toxic workplace elements, again, in the wake of ratings declines.
The revelations against DeGeneres occurred as her final contract was winding down; she exited in 2021 relatively gracefully, albeit with far less fanfare than she commanded at her peak. Clarkson’s show is being moved to New York for a “fresh start”. I can’t fathom DAYS’ remaining audience is even close to their levels.
So perhaps it’s time that this hourglass gets turned over completely. Short of complete exoneration, I would offer it’s not only time for Adarr’s toxic sands to run out, but perhaps the hiatus should be permanent.
For Adarr to have been allowed this much rope over this long a time is not only an indictment against him, it should also be an indictment of Sony’s previous inactions. While the nostalgia and the emotions of the few remaining supporters wanting to see that 60th anniversary are likely as strong as those I encountered hell-bent on seeing it to its 50th, all good things eventually come to an end. This is no longer a daytime staple, and I would challenge Peacock to come forward with any credible data to suggest it’s driving their success (cough).
Sure, there are decent people who might get caught up in the crossfire of cancellation. Sony does produce other shows, including the far more successful YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, itself recently having entered its second half-century with a fully supportive CBS network behind it. They have also been exploring ways to produce more shows for the burdgeoning Spanish language market; Sony maintains a stake in Telemundo’s successful prime time telenovela LA REINA DE LA SUR. A bilingual-centric show aimed at that audience–which would naturally go to Peacock–would likely more than make up for any gap the end of DAYS might cause.
And if you’re looking for any decent storylines for a possible spin-off, well, hey, Warner Brothers is in transition as well, and maybe this classic character’s storyline could be revisited:
Only this time, folks, base the damn show in New York. I still fail to see how they supported Joey Tribbiani’s travel budget.
Until next time…