|Bill & Susan Hayes/ Photo by Joy Jacobs|
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: On a historical note, I had no idea condoms were readily available in the early 1800s.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: Oh yes they were.
Bill Hayes: They were made from sheep bladders.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: They have been around for some time. When you start researching you go through the art of the period. A lot of the social art were cartoons. And you can see in a Thomas Rowlandson painting the picture of an old lady selling them. "Oh look at that!" I guess somebody was doing it or they wouldn’t have drawn a picture of it.
Bill Hayes: The cartoonists we talk about, Thomas Rowlandson and James Gillray, were the rockstar cartoonists of their day.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Now some questions about DAYS OF OUR LIVES. I am missing Doug and Julie horribly!
Susan Seaforth Hayes: So are Bill and Susan.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Since I spoke with you two years ago, the show has been through so many regime changes. It is clear the show must pick up ratings in order to stay on the air. What needs to happen to keep DAYS alive and vital?
Bill Hayes: It’s hard to comment without sounding like we’re bitching about what’s being done.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: I really cannot comment. Every regime has attempted to do right by the show. I know that our creative people are often at odds with our network. The network has a profile that it wishes to present which is young and vital and exciting. The audience is not all that young, though there are plenty of them out there. Historically I have watched every change wipe out something that was... no one reworks what we have, they take something away and add something new. I think Greg Meng and Ken Corday both have the interest of the longtime fans at heart. I think the network has the interest of the new fans at heart. Between the two there must be a meeting of the minds for the show to continue. There must be. Conflict in the office doesn’t produce a lot of good story. They have to have confidence in each other.
Bill Hayes: That means, to me, retaining characters who are interesting.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: And not one group going off into the corner and bullying another group. Believe me, the actors want the show to go on. Nobody wants to see DAYS OF OUR LIVES go down in flames, or sink quietly and be forgotten. I think there is still plenty of good story potential. I think there needs to be an emphasis on strong leading men. Our viewership is mainly female, and they do like interesting men, as well as bitchy women. There have been times when it has seemed like everybody was bitchy, there have been times when it seemed like everybody was evil in an attempt to create conflict. I understand you have to create conflict with drama. But I think it’s very hard when you have a change of creative personnel happening so swiftly.
Bill Hayes: It’s a jolt, and we have had several lately.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: We’ve had several in the last couple of years. I don’t think continuing stories are dead in the water. And I don’t think people need to get their entire story in thirty seconds, although the electronic media thinks that’s the way to go. I think people still like to relax with their story and unfold it and carry with them from day to day. Even though times are moving quickly, I think people still like to treasure that time with a show. And since we do watch cable, I now have a hard time with commercial interruptions. I find them emotionally jarring. Now that our scenes are so short, and our commercials are so many, it’s harder.
Bill Hayes: Damon, what would you change?
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I would have more inter-generational stories. I am biased, but I would have Doug and Julie back as emotional tent poles in Salem. They are not perfect people, and that’s what I like about them.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: They are less perfect than Tom and Alice.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And I liked that even Alice Horton became more of a three dimensional human being during some of the escapades in the early 80s. She became more well rounded and interesting. We have seen Doug and Julie’s tragic flaws evolve over the years, but we know they are still there.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: I agree with the inter-generational approach. I appreciate the Will/Marlena storyline. When Julie was on the show by herself running a newspaper, everyone was shocked that she had a young viewership. She was something of a mentor and a role model. She was not baby sitting. She was making a difference in the world, and making a difference to the world of the young people around her. Which is more like life. When two ingenues are having a go at life, it’s pretty predictable how it’s going to go. But if there is meddling from another generation, it’s more interesting. Mothers who actually get in the way, fathers who actually help, might be fun to explore.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And as I’ve been reading "Trumpet", I think about the classic young female protagonist who faces tremendous obstacles and overcomes. That for me is what has been at the heart of continuing daytime dramas, and Julie’s conflicts over many years.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: Yes and they were long running obstacles. Not just an explosion that happens for a week and a half. But a long running debate or problem that doesn’t go away, that is not easily solved. I think that is more what life is like. I do think there is a viewership out there for this, especially with so many away from the workplace right now. I think many are potential viewers that can still be captured.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: They are watching. But the current measuring system fails to accurately capture them.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: Yes the rating system is imperfect as we know. Like taxes (laughs). Well-meaning, but imperfect.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I think that it would benefit DAYS OF OUR LIVES and other continuing dramas to incorporate the real life challenges that Lizzie faces in “Trumpet.” Here is a young woman who has to grow up fast and face some gritty realities in order to save her family. She has to get on stage even when her heart is broken. How many of us have had to go to work and “perform” when a loved one has been ill? If more soaps incorporated these elements there would be more ratings.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: We are in sad agreement there. But soaps have always been sold as escape entertainment. Nobody wants to see poor people on daytime television. You can have some sickness that you can get over, but you can’t be poor and you can’t be struggling. It’s all about romance and lip gloss.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I don’t think those are exclusive. I think you can show people facing chronic medical and financial struggles, and still illustrate romance. I actually think RYAN’S HOPE did that very well in its early years.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: And the early days of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS did that very well too.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: All the more reason for people to buy "Trumpet" now and experience your version of compelling drama. I know people can now get it for immediate download for $4.99 at Decadentpublishing.com, Bonobookstore.com, and Smashwords.com. Are you two planning to tour to promote it?
Bill Hayes: We will be doing that. We are doing blog tours right now. Our publisher is feeding those two us because their basic business are eBooks. So blog tours are new to us. But we did a lot of appearances with our first book and hope to do those again.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: If people want to know if you’re coming to a town near them, how can they find you?
Susan Seaforth Hayes: It will be on our website, it will be on our Facebook page. Any time we have something going we will Twitter it or put it on Facebook. And DAYS OF OUR LIVES has those also. Greg Meng has been extremely supportive of both of our books. We are looking forward to getting in touch with our DAYS fans through that.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I really admire the way you are using the Internet and new media to market this.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: We’re struggling but we’re trying!
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I know that any DAYS fan who loved Julie’s resiliently overcoming every trauma-divorce-fire will love the resiliency of Lizzie in "Trumpet".
Bill Hayes: That is the one thing that should really touch everybody today. Don’t give up. Lizzie has a lot of difficulties. But she has that dream, she has that drive, and she keeps going on. That should be an inspiration.
Susan Seaforth Hayes: She is a modern heroine in a long dress. We put the best ingredients of soap into this book, and put into a world that we would have loved to have walked in. I think people who love historical novels love this stuff.
** You can purchase Trumpet immediately for download for $4.99 at billandsusanhayes.com.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist in New York City who specializes in treating grief/loss, depression, stress management, anger management, addiction, and bullying. He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve," currently available at Amazon.com. For more information about scheduling a speaking engagement, please email him at Shouldless@gmail.com, or check out www.shouldless.com