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Higley-Gate in Burbank
It’s the worst kept secret in daytime -- the press knows, the actors know, the fans know and the entire industry know. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Dena Higley is expected to be announced as the new Head Writer for “Days Of Our Lives.”
Higley, who is no stranger to "DAYS," having begun writing for the show in the mid 80's, is replacing Hogan Sheffer (whose material ended on January 24th). This is Higley's second stint as top scribe for the NBC sudser. In 2003, she served as the Head Writer, whose vastly unpopular stories aired from early March to mid August. She left the show in 2004 to write for ABC's "One Life to Live." Though she earned a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2006 for Outstanding Writing, she was fired in 2007.
Higley's return to "DAYS" comes with a ton controversy and turmoil. During the Writers Strike, it was widely speculated that Higley was scabbing during the strike. Though there were whispers within the industry regarding Higley’s alleged scabbing, this issue didn’t become public until Carolyn Hinsey’s January 25th column in the New York Daily News. In Hinsey’s column, she names a group of writers who elected to go on Financial Core status: Josh Griffith (“The Young and The Restless”), Garin Wolf (“General Hospital”), Gary Tomlin (“One Life To Live”), Kay Alden (“The Bold and The Beautiful), James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten (“All My Children”) and Dena Higley (“Days Of Our Lives”). However, Higley did not go “Fi-Core,” therefore she was not allowed to write at all. It was her husband, writer Mark Christopher Higley, and close friend and colleague, writer Victor Gialanella, who decided to go on “Fi-Core” at “DAYS” -- it unknown as to when they crossed the picket line as their names still are not appearing on episodes currently airing.
According to sources close to the show, Higley’s name has been talked about at the studio as if she’s been writing for a while. This coincides with what was revealed in Nelson Branco’s February 22nd TV Guide Canada column. "DAYS" actor James Reynolds (Abe Carver) said, "Dena is our head writer," and that he’s been enjoying her work, "especially the episodes that are airing now." Airing now? But Higley’s name is not in the credits!
Sources also tell Soap Opera Network that key players at "DAYS" are unhappy with decision to have Dena Higley as Head Writer and would prefer an alternative that would be more beneficial to the show.
This isn't the only story that has people in the industry talking. In early February, the show fired nearly the entire writing team in one fell swoop. [See Report Here] Shortly after, rumors surfaced about the fired writers returning. However, that is not the case. Though there's no official word, inside sources are saying that they will be paid off through the remainder of their contracts -- similar to how they’re still paying for James E. Reilly’s massive contract.
When asked about this whole situation, one insider had this to say: "I think it's a travesty. All talent, quality and ability aside, every soap opera was under the gun for over three months due to this labor action, but most showed restraint, compassion and integrity in terms of their teams. What transpired at "Days Of Our Lives" appears to many to be underhanded, and thoroughly duplicitous. We should be producing a fictional story like this -- not hearing about people living one."
Another insider expressed this: "If it turns out that the WGA [Writers Guild of America] can prove someone scabbed, I'll have little sympathy. No WGA member is required to go on strike. For anyone who either A) disagreed with the Guild's cause, B) had financial need, or as one said to me, C) "were trying to keep their show from getting canceled" -- those writers had the option of going Financial Core. It's not a respected position among Guild members. It feels like by doing so, you are expecting the rest of the WGA members to suffer, while you reap the rewards. However, legally, this option does exist. There is no need to scab. Scabbing is even worse than "Fi-Core" because that means you're trying to get away with working during a strike -- and suffer no consequences. Well, the consequence of a Guild writer who is caught scabbing is possible expulsion from the Guild. All daytime soaps are Guild-signatory, meaning they are not allowed to use non-Guild writers. So to take this risk by scabbing during a strike -- it's a huge gamble. You could be potentially throwing away the rest of your career. If there is proof of scabbing, I believe the scab will be screwed. They won't get support from those of us who went on strike and they won't get support from those who went "Fi-Core," who at least had the courage to be public about their views. All that leaves are other scabs -- who will be too afraid of getting exposed themselves to offer any support. To those scabs, I have just one thing to say: I hope it was worth it."
There’s more twists and turns in this story, but it will have to be told at a later time........Stay tuned to SON.