Soap Opera Digest: When you made the change in head writers back in the beginning of the year, what were you looking for and how has your new head writer, Ron Carlivati, achieved that?
Ken Corday: Oh, I think he’s achieved it in every way, shape and form. I was looking for family that was familiar, they’re back. I was looking for stories that made sense and were entertaining in the tradition of DAYS and what we’ve done in the past, and he’s done that. We’re seeing people we want to see and stories that are entertaining. He’s a smart cookie. He knows how to play his cards, so he has delivered what he promised to deliver when he came in, and I am happy with it. I think the viewers are happy with it. I haven’t heard a lot of blowback.
Digest: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, but the ratings don’t seem to reflect how good the show is right now. Would you agree?
Corday: Agnes Nixon [ALL MY CHILDREN/ONE LIFE TO LIVE creator] had a great quote to the effect of when things are bad, the ratings fall like a lead balloon, and when things are good, they go up slowly, like a feather on hot air. It takes a while to show the positive increase in the show. I don’t think the ratings reflect what’s happening on-screen.
Digest: DAYS is celebrating its 52nd anniversary on November 8. How do you feel about the state of the show in light of the changes you’ve made over the past months?
Corday: I think the show is as vital, if not more vital, than ever! Seeing characters that are iconic and stories that are in the DAYS tradition, even if they’re a little outlandish, will make people tune in if it’s with characters they know and care about.
Digest: How do you feel the returns of Ali (Sweeney, Sami) and Chandler (Massey, Will) affect the canvas?
Corday: I think it gives the viewers what they’ve been wanting to see, which is the tradition of the show. Alison is fantastic. She always delivers, people love the character, and this time the character is back as the Sami we’ve always known — the feisty, I’m-going-to-grab-a-gun-if-I-want-to one. And the viewers will love that.
Digest: Talk about reversing the murder of Will.
Corday: Well, tried and true, people come back from the dead. We’ve done this in the past, and I think if people want to see that character back, they’ll buy the ticket.
Digest: Looking back, do you wish you had done things differently at the time you killed off Will?
Corday: This is such 20/20 hindsight. We got burned by it. People hated the fact that we killed Will, but we did. Now we’re fixing it. Do I regret it? Yeah. But now he’s back in all of his Chandler Massey glory, and it’s going to be great to see him.
Digest: Have you been surprised by anything Ron has done, like bringing Bryan (R. Dattilo, Lucas) to the fore and seeing the amazing performances that he’s been giving?
Corday: Surprised is not so much the right word as just really encouraged that he did his homework. He dug into a lot of history on the show and he’s paying homage to that history, as opposed to bringing in a lot of new characters and telling stories for people that we don’t care about. Lucas is someone that the viewers really care about, and his past can be mined, and Bryan has done a wonderful job with it.
Digest: What does it mean to you that Ron was able to come in, look at the canvas and revitalize it?
Corday: It’s wonderful! I love his ability to craft day-to-day, week-to-week stories with people from 10 or 20 years ago that are still vital. That’s the sign of a writer who is a strong head writer, as opposed to someone that wants to create a new canvas. I am thrilled with him and thrilled with his reboot of the show.
Digest: Do you feel what’s happening now is more in line with what you’ve been wanting to see on the show?
Corday: Very, very much. More so than I’ve had for a long time, let’s put it that way.
Digest: What would you say viewers can expect from now until the end of the year?
Corday: It’s fasten your seatbelt, because every week it’s something new, between the story with Will, and Eve returning, and then the big umbrella story that Ron has planned.
Digest: What would you say to people who haven’t been tuning in?
Corday: NBC used to have a promo that said, “It’s getting good again.” And it is. Tune in and watch because it’s getting really good. I watch the show in the evening, and for the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed my wife peeking over my shoulder while I’m watching it. She’ll come in and watch, where she hadn’t been because it’s gripping.
Digest: What do you want to say about the future of the show?
Corday: I feel good about it. I’m certain we’re going to be on the air for a
Ron Carlivati teases what’s coming up in Salem.
Look for the “Will is alive” story to kick into high gear. “I think one of the reasons I’m excited about this story is that on one hand, it’s the culmination of a story we started a couple of months ago, which began at the wedding with Ben’s announcement that Will is alive,” says Carlivati. “We played the mystery and the steps and the beats and how the idea that he was out there emotionally affected the characters on the canvas. So this is sort of the climax of the story, yet the beginning of the next chapter at the same time. You get this payoff that you’ve been waiting for: Yes, he’s alive. And you finally get to see him for real.”
So do his nearest and dearest. “Down in Memphis, when Sonny and Will are face to face, it’s the moment the audience has been waiting for from the moment we dropped the possibility that he might be alive,” shares Carlivati. “I really did make the audience wait for some kind of payoff about Will, and really, it is all about that payoff now. It’s about finally seeing him reunite with loved ones and how his return will shake up the canvas. You’re going to get to see Will with Sami, Will with Sonny, Will with Marlena, Will with Kate, Will with Lucas, Will with Paul, Will with Arianna. It’s just one emotional reunion after another and each is different in its own way. While it’s a huge payoff, it’s also an exciting time to jump in because it’s the start of a whole new story. You’re going to get all the answers you’ve been wanting about this story.”
And, at the end of the week, a shocking twist will forever change the town of Salem. “We’re kicking off this giant umbrella story that centers around JJ and is going to be a roller-coaster ride of joy and sorrow and grief and forgiveness, redemption, anger,” Carlivati previews. “It’s a story with high emotional stakes for the characters that will touch almost everybody on the canvas, especially the Hortons and the Carvers.”