Writer Roulette: Round 8,000

This isn’t really a spoiler, but I’ll put it behind a cut anyway for those who don’t want to know any of the backstage shenanigans and how they might affect what’s on-air (God bless you, because I would go insane if I tried to live that way)…


Co-head writer Dena Higley, whose work finally starts airing next week, is taking a leave of absence from Days “for personal reasons,” per Daytime Confidential. The report adds that there is “no word on when Higley is set to resume her duties.” This makes me nervous. Were Corday and/or Sony not pleased with her work? Has she not been working well with Griffith? Of course, if it’s truly something personal or family-related, I hope all is well and that she’s able to return to work soon.

The DC article also mentions that “Sony is considering bringing on someone from sister soap The Young and the Restless‘ writing team to assist Griffith in helming the soap opera’s storytelling.” Some astute folks online have noticed that Beth Milstein, who led the show during the transition between James E. Reilly and Hogan Sheffer in 2006 (and turned out a pretty damn good show during that time), recently indicated on Facebook that she’s working at Days again. So, for now, best wishes to Dena Higley, and also to us, because it looks like we could be in for a bumpy ride in the coming months.

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6 Comments on “Writer Roulette: Round 8,000”

  1. marypickford Says:

    I am so bowled over by this. I have heard that in 2008, Dena forced out a producer, Ed Scott, because she didn’t like working with him. She threatened to quit and Corday backed her (supposedly, who knows how true these stories really are!). This feels like — maybe? — it could be a similar power play. “If you don’t get rid of X, I won’t come in to work, see how you like it!”

    I liked Beth Milstein’s work too. That’s when I was really paying attention, since I had just come back to the show for Steve and Kayla. She wrapped up Reilly’s last big story – the black glove/embryo switch – in a relatively clever way. She wasn’t really coming up with her own stories, though, just trying to wrap up Reilly and lay groundwork for Hogan Sheffer. But I remember feeling good about what I was watching.

    Part of me is worried to hear this, because if she was forced out, does that mean her stuff (that we are about to watch!) is just so completely terrible? But I kind of doubt that it’s that. TPTB would go by ratings, not their own preferences. And obviously there are no ratings to look at.

    Another part of me is a little bit happy about this, because Higley’s show in 2008-2009 was pretty painful for me to watch. I don’t know exactly why, because some of her story ideas were okay, some kind of out there, but creative in a campy way. I just found the show really unwatchable. I think it was partly the rapid coupling/uncoupling everybody did. No time to invest in a couple before they were on to the next pairing.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I do think it’s possible that something family- or health-related happened, and she’s taking time off for that. I know she had moved to Florida last year or something, planning to retire, and Days brought her back, so maybe she just needs to be there full-time for something with her family for a bit. I would also THINK that if she were walking out, Days would just say that and say she was done as HW. So it’s very curious. If she’s been fired because her stuff was already turning sour or because she was tough to work with, wouldn’t we just hear that?

      I felt the same way about 2008. I got really bored by the end of Hogan’s stint, and then the first part of Higley was a mess, too. Ideas worked, but you’re completely spot-on: it felt like Musical Beds as if the suggestion of pairings was meant to draw us in, rather than the build and investment. Something clicked in mid-2009, but that was when Chris Whitesell became co-HW, I think. I was never sure what of that period I loved was really Higley, because her OLTL was unwatchable to me.

      I thought the same thing about Milstein — she was great at transition. Maybe her supporting Griffith will be a good fit for the same reasons, then.

      I’m unsettled, regardless, but trying to be optimistic.

  2. Dan Says:

    I don’t know what to say. Higley is controversial and the show tends to take a certain slant when she is there. Dark, emotional material that needs to be balanced with light, romantic fare and family affairs. Sometimes she can excel at this mateiral, other times, it’s a hot mess. I do think she could tell a damn good long story which no one other than she and Tomlin have manage to do on any soap in years.

    I could see this being one of two things. It could be family. After all we endured Officer Jensen because she was Higley’s daughter. If one of her children needed her, I could definitely see her leaving. With that said, I could also see this show quietly dumping her and not wanting to upset their anniversary buzz.

    We will see.

    • mykleraus Says:

      I do think it’s possible Higley just burned out, or they lured her back for the anniversary and her heart wasn’t in it, so this ‘leave of absence’ is a way of her stepping out without being fired. I hope everything’s all right with her health and her family, of course. I guess it’s also possible she was clashing with Griffith and/or Corday and they all just kind of decided it wasn’t working. Who knows?

      I agree with you (as you know) about Higley — and the 2003 version of me would be shocked to read this: she (along with Tomlin) gave us the best Days we’ve had in at least a decade, so I have my hopes up for this re-focusing we’re about to get.

      • ADW Says:

        I can’t even speculate this one as we aren’t privy to everything that occurs behind the scenes and behind closed doors. “Personal reasons” is such a broad term. We only know what Higley and TPTB care to share. Another transition could be positive; I would love if Days could be up there (if not exceed) Y&R ratings 😉

      • mykleraus Says:

        Yeah, there’s really no way to know. I hope everything is okay with Higley and her family, and I hope whatever happens with the HW situation, Days remains entertaining.

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