Deep Soap: TV Academy Celebrates ‘Days’ 45th Anniversary

by | September 29, 2010 at 2:52 PM | Deep Soap

Chandler Massey,  Alison Sweeney and Bryan Dattlio ( Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Chandler Massey, Alison Sweeney and Bryan Dattlio ( Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Tuesday night The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences celebrated ‘Days of Our Lives‘ 45th anniversary with a lengthy event featuring panel discussions and montages of the show’s classic moments.  Executive Producer Ken Corday held court alongside actors grouped into panels including Families, Heroes, Villains and Growing Up in Salem.  The m.c. was Jon Jordan, a flamboyant reporter from NBC’s Detroit affiliate whose shiny red shoes were deservedly mocked by Bryan Datillo (ex-Lucas).  The superbly edited montages that covered every era of the show, set to music by The Killers, Modest Mouse and Rage Against the Machine that would be far too expensive to license for the actual show, were the highlights of the evening.  I hope that ‘Days’ will make them available online.

Here are some of the most notable quotes from the event:

Executive producer Ken Corday on his parents, Ted and Betty Corday, the creators of ‘Days of Our Lives’:
“My mother and father were very much dedicated to the concept of family, the modern American family in post-World War II and Why don’t we do something like that in the Midwest?  Soap operas then were all urban.  They were all from penthouse to basement.  We don’t reinvent the wheel every day.  We get outside the box, we get inside the box, we move the coordinates around, but after 45 years it’s still ‘Days of Our Lives.’ It’s the same show.  It’s these familes, these two or three families, the Hortons and the Bradys.  As our brilliant head writer Dena Higley constantly points out to me, family is about the redemptive power of love.”

Suzanne Rogers on Frances Reid:
“My favorite memory of Frances always was Christmas time.  We would be putting the ornaments on the tree and Frances was just like a grandmother, a mother to me because I was here in California by myself so she was there.  I always knew I could call her. She was the rock that held us all together.”

Maree Cheatham on the consistency of daytime:
“This is the only venue where you can go to two funerals for the same person.  I was invited to.. a funeral on the set.   I pulled out a drawer on a desk and there was a piece of needlepoint that I’d been working on 20 years earlier.”

Corday on Standards and Practices:
“We used to trade damns for hells.  It was three damns and one hell… And then the FCC had some cutbacks, wonderful cutbacks, and they gave the responsibility to the producers in the control room to keep things in the parameters of good taste, and then we started to have a lot of fun.”

Susan Seaforth Hayes, on her on and off-screen romantic partner Bill Hayes:
“We used to have rehearsal first thing in the morning when we weren’t quite so camera ready… We’d get there at 6 o’clock in the morning.  We’d dry block.  I’d run my lines.  We’d retire to our room and make love… One of the main reasons people tune in to watch soap operas is the joy of romance and the fact that there can be fulfillment.  So we’re an old supercouple, but we’re still at it. ”

Peter Reckell on the New Orleans location shoot in the 1980s:
“That’s where Fancy Face came from.  It was spur of the moment.  We were doing 100 pages a day, just flying and having a great time.”

Charles Shaughnessy on the best soap role:
“The best gig is the coma.  You show up and you have the same paycheck but you get into bed and just lie there while everyone cries and says lovely things about you.  I had about four or five comas.”

Arianne Zucker on Nicole’s thought process:
“The amazing thing is this character can justify everything… There isn’t anything I’ve done that’s wrong.”

Louise Sorel on realizing people fantasize about behaving like Vivian:
“I was just at a spa.  There were women I met there from Hartford, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  They recognized me.  After dinner they took me to their room and started talking about how they were going to off their husbands. I was stunned.  They said, ‘Are we scaring you?’ I thought, well, people think about these things.”

Bryan Datillo on his first ‘Days’ sex scene:
“Her name was Cherish, the rock star.  She was glorious.  She told me not to touch the breasts.  The first note I got as an actor.”

Alison Sweeney on her unique relationship with Bryan Datillo:
“Bryan and I had our first love scene in a photo lab. Bryan had just recently broken his arm.  And you stole my hair thing, which was weird.  We had to make the scene work with a cast on your arm.  I’m hoping someday Bryan and I can say that we grew up together, but we haven’t done that yet.”

Headwriter Dena Higley on how ‘Days’ writing has changed:
“When I first started on the show I was a staff writer.  You would have these lovely scenes of Alice and Maggie having tea and talking about various woman things.  We can’t do that now because I’ve got Gary [Tomlin] yelling at me, ‘Bigger, faster, louder.’  Nobody has tea anymore. There are explosions, as much as we can afford them, and there’s a lot of running around and people shooting people in the head.”

Co-Executive Producer Gary Tomlin on the impact of the show’s budget cuts:
“We were watching clips and saying ‘Remember we were there five nights a week until eleven o’clock and then we had to come in on Saturday’ and we were shooting five shows a week.  Now we’re shooting seven and a half shows a week.  We started our new budget, it will be two years in February and we have not in the studio past six o’clock once.”