DAYS’s co-executive producer, Albert Alarr, has been let go and replaced by longtime coordinating producer, Janet Drucker. His exit, which was announced to the cast via email from Executive Producer Ken Corday on August 4, comes on the heels of a nine-week internal investigation that was recently made public. After news of his ouster hit the Internet last night, Alarr gave a statement to thewrap.com, in which he said, in part, “It is hard to overstate how heartbreaking I find this situation … It’s important to set the record straight. Every day, I worked with hundreds of people, the overwhelming majority of whom would disagree with recent mischaracterizations of me. I have been in this industry for decades, and not a single complaint has ever been made against me until now. Many of the claims recently referenced in the media are simply false. Others have been taken so out of context or are so twisted that they are unrecognizable from the truth. To be clear, this whole situation stems from the animus of just two individuals. Those individuals, at a time of industry-wide cutbacks and economic uncertainty, have been relentlessly angling for greater pay and increased influence on the show, and, it appears, believed that their best strategy to get it was to play on vile stereotypes in order to bring down a Black man in a position of power. I will always be proud of being the only Black director/producer in daytime soap operas. And, while I am devastated by the manner of my departure, I will always treasure my years at ‘Days of Our Lives’ and wish the wildly talented cast and crew the very best for the future.”
The drama unfolded on July 25, when deadline.com posted a story detailing the behind-the-scenes investigation into Alarr’s conduct on set, sparked by a complaint from a female employee following the budget cuts and layoffs the show did after getting a two-year pickup from Peacock in March. The internal investigation, conducted by Sony Pictures Television, DAYS’s distributor, reportedly yielded unfavorable stories from cast and crew members about Alarr’s behavior on set, yet he wasn’t relieved of his duties. In a statement to Deadline at the time, Corday Productions, run Corday, whose parents, Ted and Betty Corday, created the show in 1965, said, “Corday Productions engaged Sony Pictures Television, which distributes Days of our Lives, to conduct an impartial investigation into this matter. After a two-month investigation, the independent investigator produced a report with its findings. Based on those findings, Corday Productions has taken a series of actions designed to ensure a safe and respectful work environment.” No further comment was offered from the show, even after a firestorm erupted online.
On August 2, Deadline posted another story, this time revealing that more than 25 cast members had signed a petition — obtained by Digest — calling for Alarr’s ouster, stating, “many of us feel, and will continue to feel very uncomfortable and distraught should be stay involved with the show. Many of us have either been physically or verbally violated by him,” and calling for his replacement in Director Sonia Blangiardo, who previously toiled at ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ALL MY CHILDREN, AS THE WORLD TURNS and created the web soap, TAINTED DREAMS. In the petition, the actors wrote, “As a caring and compassionate leader, Sonia has proven she understands the needs of the crew, employees, and without a doubt, she has developed an inspiring language that brings out the best in all of us actors while working on set.” After the petition was made public, former cast member Farah Fath (ex-Mimi et al) posted the following online: “I had the particular misfortune of having Alarr direct my first ever ‘love’ scene when I was 19. He was new so I was already nervous not having one of the other directors that I was used to. I was extremely modest and freaked out to be standing in my underwear in front of dozens of crew (aka men that had known me since I was 15…ew) and did Albert do or say one little thing to make me feel remotely at ease? Absolutely not. He pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed me on a particular issue, and was annoyed when I stood my ground. 20 years later and I still feel sad about that day yet happy I set a boundary. But MAN would it have been nice to have a WOMAN direct that scene and make sure I felt protected instead of exposed. It’s been hard for me to read the news. I guess I’m shocked he learned nothing after the me too movement. Or by …hello?? The cast & crew’s appalled reactions to him on daily basis?? I’m sorry to my former coworkers who’ve been dealing with this relentlessly for decades now. Proud of those who are finding their voice now. His time is up. Nice work.”
Now that a new regime is in place, a castmember, who spoke to Digest anonymously, states, “We often talk about the show as being like a family, and it’s a huge, big dysfunctional family. And that family incorporates the bosses and the workers and the fans, and at the core of it all is people that are just trying to do their best with the job that they have. None of that will change. The core mission of the actors and crew hasn’t changed. They’ll still be doing their absolute best to make at least five episodes of television a week. I would hope that we’re at least allowed to try and do our best without this constant sense of fragility that I feel that we’ve all been dealing with for a couple of years at this point, where we get good news about a pickup and then bad news about literally every other aspect of the day-to-day running of the show. So I would hope that moving forward, we would just be allowed to just concentrate on doing the best job we can and not necessarily have to worry so much about all these extraneous factors. We care and we want it to be good, so we’re gonna keep caring and keep trying to make it good under whatever circumstances arise next.”