Monday, December 17, 2007

Daytime United! A Report from the Front Line of today’s Daytime picketing event!

Here's an update from Daytime Emmy winning writer (and strike captain) Tom Casiello about today's rally in New York City:

I am THRILLED to report that today's Daytime United! Picketing Event was a success beyond our wildest dreams. In New York, we had about 400 people show up: writers from ALL genres, students, press, fans... it was unbelievably supportive and moving. Cast members from ALL of the NYC shows were there, and even though I write for a West Coast show, it was wonderful to see all of my old friends from One Life to Live and As the World Turns there to show their support.

I manned the check-in desk, and got to talk to a lot of different people, who were unaware just how different an animal daytime is from the rest of the writers. The fact that soap operas do NOT shut down production, and continue to work with scabs and "fi-core members", was quite a shock to most of them. But with so many daytime writers in attendance, it was clear the majority believe in the guild's fight. The president spoke, as well as two of my favorite writers I've ever had the pleasure of working with: Courtney Simon and Melissa Salmons. They were empowering, energizing and so inspiring. Then the president of AFTRA spoke, and to receive the support of all of these actors almost moved me to tears.

I've been very vocal about how difficult this is as a daytime writer. Spending day in and day out with these characters, it is (as Melissa and Courtney so eloquently put it) an addiction for the writers as well as the fans. We miss these towns, these families, these stories, these actors. We crave returning to work, and personally, I've had more than one down day these last seven weeks, feeling completely in withdrawl from the good folks of Salem. But then I experience a day like today, and I realize what we're doing out on the picket line isn't just about us... it's about every future writer. Serials may change format, but they will never die. This is history in the making, folks. And it's moments like these I'm proud to be a part of the daytime community.

By the time the picket was over, I was so moved that I ended up pouring my soul out to the lovely Jennifer Lenhart's (from SOD) video camera about my thoughts re: the strike. I've known Jen for years, and she's always done right by the shows I've worked for. She's so supportive, and I was happy to look into her lens and tell her how much I believe in this cause, how important it is, and how much I love the fans' support - both in person, and on the Internet Message Boards. You, the fans, are truly as much a part of this as we are.

I am a DAYS viewer going back to my childhood, and I'm proud to say I'm a "fan" as well as a "writer." I was honored - HONORED AND PRIVILEGED - this year to write Sami Brady a wedding, John Black a funeral, a Thanksgiving Phelle and Shelle fans will always remember (and a showdown between Marlena and Stefano I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into), and next week, I'll be waiting with bated breath to see how my Christmas episode turns out on the 26th. And now I'm standing up to the media conglomerates and fighting for what is right. It's been one hell of a year, and I will forever remember 2007. I love what I do, I love the people I do it with, and I love where I do it. I know sometimes we fail you, and sometimes we deliver the goods and surprise you in ways you never imagined... but please know that whether you're praising us or cursing us, we are all - writers, actors, producers and fans alike - SOOO dedicated to this genre and united in this: preserving the past, delivering in the present, and guaranteeing a future. And I thank you for hanging in there with us and being as supportive as you are during such a trying time.

(Jen said this all might show up on the SOD website, but I wanted to put it in words, in case it doesn't... oh yeah, and it's about 20 degrees here in NYC, so if you do see me on the website, and I'm shivering, red-faced and stuttering out my thoughts like a fool, it's only because I was frozen. )

Have a wonderful holiday, and a fantastic New Year's. Here's to getting back to work in 2008!!

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