Interview with Brash and Cwikly from May 2002. DOOL's New Head Writers, Peter Brash and Paula Cwikly, Unveil Their Plans for Salem In December, Tom Langan was relieved of his executive producer/head writer duties at DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Staff writers Peter Brash and Paul Cwikly took over the writing reins and began crafting a new Salem. Both have roots in daytime- Brash is a 20 year veteran scribe of daytime dramas who has been with DAYS since 1998. Cwikly was a NBC network exec who got her feet wet writing for SUNSET BEACH. "When I got the job at DAYS. I was very intimidated because it's one of the greats." says Brash. "As a writer, even though I have a lot of experience, I was intimidated. But from the very first breakdown that I wrote for this show, it was like putting on slippers. DIGEST: What was your reaction to being named head writers? Paula Cwikly: Ken (Corday, executive producer) called me and said, "Are you sitting down? I always think I'm in trouble, even if I haven't done anything. I thought, "Oh My God, I'm gonna be fired." He said it, and I said, "I need to lay down." He said "Go ahead." That was my reaction. Peter Brash: We had many moments in December where we would look at each other and say, "This isn't happening." It was a happy surprise. Cwikly: And still, when I'm introduced on somebody as, "This is our headwriter." I'm looking behind me to see who they're talking about. DIGEST: What was your first order of business? Cwikly: Where we took over. Tom had written through March (on-screen). The last week of March pretty much became ours. There was a lot of good stuff there that we didn't have to mess with. We changed what we could, but once we said. "John is not the father of (Issac)," we then looked at what been written and realized that we didn't even see the characters again for about two weeks. So, we did a drop-in show that was entirely ours. In the middle of the Tom material, there was one show that dealt with the payoff of John not being the father. DIGEST: What was your first material? Cwikly: The first stuff of ours that aired was Sami and Austin's wedding. I said to Peter, "Forget about WORKING on the show. As a fan, I am standing on the coffee table, in my living room cheering. I waited for 10 years for this." Brash: That's been a long time coming. We're really happy with the way it turned out. DIGEST: Are there any characters you wanted to put into story who weren't being used? Cwikly: It's not so much that as feeling very strongly that there needs to be a sense of balance. We don't want to see anybody five days a week, and we don't want to go months without seeing someone. The nature of the beast is that you've got backburner, and you've got front burner. But no body should be off the stove. Brash: We see the cast and ask, "Who are the money characters for us?" We love all our characters, but there are certain couples on the show who demand a certain attention, like Bo and Hope, John and Marlena. We take those characters very seriously. Sami is another example. Sami drives the story, and (Alison Sweeney is) a fabulous actress and fun to write (for). Craig and Nancy--they're fun, and they were missing in action. We love the younger characters. They're all gonna be present and accounted for. DIGEST: How would you describe the Salem we'll see by next year? Brash: In a way, it may be a Salem that's very familiar to the past in terms of paying respect to the Brady's and Hortons. Those families are, to me, a kind of magic. We won't veer far away from that. I hope it'll become a more diverse Salem and maybe a Salem that's more in the world of the 21st Century. DIGEST: What about the supernatural? Cwikly: That's part of who we are. Brash: I don't think we'll lose it totally. If we do it, we're going to do it in a planned and very considerate way. It'll always be part of what the show is, the reality and all the drama on DAYS. But I don't think we're going to use it as a crutch; we're going to be character-driven and emotional first. Cwikly: To me, every soap opera story is a love story, and people may disagree. Even the devil possession. It was the story of a man loving a woman so much that he was willing to sacrifice his soul for her. DIGEST: Do you have any characters who were favorites before you took over? Cwikly: We love all our children the same. It's just on some days, we love some more than others (laughs) DIGEST: What about introducing new characters? Brash: We have some on the boards. But for the spring and summer, it's more about putting our ducks in a row for what's already there. For the fall, I think we might see a new character here or there. We're not writing a new family, although we have those ideas. New characters are not coming into fruition yet. We're just planting seeds for them. DIGEST: So, you're not make the first new head writer mistake, which is crowding the canvas with newcomers. Brash: Right. We feel strongly about the characters we have already. The canvas is rich. Cwikly: There comes a time when you've got to bring in a Brady family or whatever. I know that fans want the characters they love, but sometimes, you've got to bring in somebody new. I'm sure when Roman Brady first appeared and started to have a family, if there was an Internet then, people would've written. "Who are these people? Who are these interlopers on my soap opera?" DIGEST: Will we ever know why Stefano hates the Brady's. Brash: Yes! Not tomorrow, but we have the idea in our heads, and it's on paper already. We think it's rather compelling, actually. It's also something we have to build to that probably wouldn't be until February sweeps next year. It's definitely high up on our list of places we want to go. DIGEST: Paula, you're in California, and Peter is in New York. How do you work together? Cwikly: We're working extremely closely together. At this point, I'm getting the short end of the stick because I get up at 4:30 in the morning to get on the phone with him! Brash: She's lovely that way. Cwikly: We work until 6 o'clock LA time. Which is 9 o'clock for him. Basically, since I started this job, I work and sleep. It's fun because I get to be the characters. I walk around and say, "If I was Sami, what would I do?" But I have to tell (the reader that) Peter does voices. You should hear his Celeste and Rolf. Sometimes, he'll say, I'm sliding into an Irish brogue." I say "That's Rolf and Grandpa Shawn's love child." DIGEST: Do you agree on storylines? Cwikly: Yes. From the beginning, we made two promises to each other. One is, if we ever pitch something to each other and one says, "Hate it, absolutely hate it," we will drop it. The other is that we won't take the phone into the bathroom. We will hang up. Even with cordless phones, there are places they should not go. Brash: It's surprising how few, if any times, we've come to, "Hate it, I won't do it." It's been a very happy joining of visions. Having Paula as a collaborator, I found someone I'd like to work with for a long time and stay doing this with for a long time. DIGEST: What do you want fans to take away from the storylines? Cwikly: Wow... Trust us, we know what's good for you (laughs)! (Former BEACH Co-writer) Chris Whitesell, who I adore, who gave me my first writing job and is very responsible for the writer I became, called me the morning it was announced. He said, "Get on your thick-skin suit because no matter what you do, you're not going to make everyone happy. That's always going to be a fraction who doesn't like it, and you gotta hope that the people you're making happy are the larger." That meant a lot. Brash: We've written long term story for the summer and the fall that's going to be exciting and will take the show in new directions that I don't think anyone is expecting. We're psyched. In June and late summer, it's some great stuff. We're gonna to be in sweeps starting today. Every day's a Friday, and every month is sweeps. Cwikly: We have lots of stuff coming up. We have the huge May for Bo and Hope, but there's also balance. You'll see everybody. In June, we have graduation, the Last Blast Dance.... Brash: ....we wrote a long-term document that included story for the summer and the fall into 2003 and beyond. The first chapter is titled "A Summer to Remember." So watch now, for God's sake!