EXCLUSIVE! Interview with Headwriter/Co-EP Shawn Dunphy!
Recently, the folks at SONBC had the exciting opportunity to sit down with Shawn Dunphy, the recently appointed Headwriter and Co-Executive Producer of Salem Nights. For those of you who don’t know already, Salem Nights is a brand new reimagining of the classic soap opera Days of Our Lives. Mr. Dunphy was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to dish on what’s in store for the people of Salem, what made him take the job, and to give us his take on the future of the soap opera industry.
SONBC: First of all, thank you for letting us have this chance to talk to you.
SD: No thanks necessary, its my pleasure.
SONBC: Well as you know, the talk of the town is Salem Nights, and some of it isn’t good. A lot of people are quite upset that Days of Our Lives is no more.
SD: I understand fan loyalty, but Days is by no means gone. They simply changed the name to signify a new beginning. The same people that the loyal viewers have come to love will still be roaming the various locales in Salem, getting into the same disastrous situations. (laughs)
SONBC: What brought on this new beginning in the first place?
SD: About a year ago, negotiations came to a head between NBC and Corday Productions. Unfortunately, neither side could come to an agreement so he started to shop the show around to other networks. Luckily, you guys at SONBC are big fans of the show and snatched it up. Shortly after signing the contract, Ken took ill and could no longer helm the show, and Hogan [sheffer] quit shortly after to return to ATWT. That’s when I got the call.
SONBC: What made him choose you?
SD: I had been in the business for a while and met Ken through various channels. He knew how much I truly loved Days and its rich history, and he believed that I could do it justice. I sat down with him and told him that for a new start, we needed a new name, something fresh and exciting; something to make people sit up and pay attention. He jumped at the chance.
SONBC: Tell us a little about Tara Smith. Why did you appoint her your Co-EP?
SD: It was a no brainer really. Tara is as passionate about the show as I am and her tenure in the business is unprecedented. Together, we hope to bring the show back to its former glory of the 1970’s and 1980’s, when the show was based in reality with romance, suspense and adventure.
SONBC: Okay, now give us some scoop on what we should expect to see.
SD: Well, I can’t give too much away, but I will tell you that some favorites will be returning, and some favorites will be departing. Budgets being the way that they are today, we had to do the best that we could, but when all is said and done, I don’t think fans will be disappointed.
SONBC: Any hints on who will be bidding adieu to Salem?
SD: Unfortunately, my lips are sealed. We don’t even plan on informing the soap mags of the list of cast changes. The first episode is a doozy, and will forever change the course of the show. It was our way of making the transition from Days of our Lives to Salem Nights. It will be unforgettable.
SONBC: So nothing else huh? (laughs)
SD: (laughing) I wish that I could. You’ll just have to wait and see.
SONBC: Okay then. You mentioned budget cuts in your earlier response. Do you think that this will affect the future of daytime?
SD: Without question. Viewership is down, that’s the sad truth. We, the powers that be, have to roll with the punches and do the best with what we have. Do I see a future for daytime? Absolutely. If each show produces what the viewer wants to see, and not what they THINK the viewers want to see, then the response, I think will be tremendous. People want to see their favorites being themselves and not being thrown into unbelievable situations just for the hell of it. If we are true to the fans, the fans will be true to us. I really believe that.
SONBC: As do we. Well thank you, Shawn, for sitting down with us again. Its been great. And we can’t wait to see what you have in store for the people of Salem.
SD: Don’t mention it. Thanks for having me!
Salem Nights debuts on January 1, 2008. Only on SONBC.