Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WE LOVE SOAPS TV Holiday Recommendation: The Corday Story

It’s not easy being Ken Corday.  On one hand you have the pride and burden of carrying a family legacy for over two decades.  On the other, you are constantly living in fear of a cancellation ax being wielded upon said legacy, as well as the knowledge that you sacrificed your own artistic hopes and dreams in order to make your parents’ creation thrive. 

These are just some of the challenges shared in the new book “The Days Of Our Lives: The True Story Of One Family’s Dream And The Untold History of Days Of Our Lives”.  This is an illuminating and powerful must-read for anyone who has ever watched DAYS, or for that matter, anyone who has ever put a family business in front of their own aspirations.  Say what you will about Ken Corday (as dozens of critics have).  But after reading this book one cannot deny the integrity, determination, and strength demanded of him to keep DAYS on the air, and keep network interference to a minimum.

 In the first half of the book, he traces the fascinating love story of Ted and Betty Corday, a star-crossed supercouple in their own right, who overcame great obstacles to marry. They embraced their relationship in a time when it was unpopular and challenging for two people from different religious backgrounds (Judaism and Christianity) to be together.  Together they lived through a world war, financial struggles, and external pressures in order for Ted to succeed as producer of THE GUIDING LIGHT and director of AS THE WORLD TURNS. 

What they could not overcome was the Hodgkin's lymphoma that tragically overtook Ted’s life shortly after producing two new shows for NBC in 1965 (MORNING STAR and DAYS).  After his death, Betty took over the role of executive producer for DAYS, which was near cancellation by that point.  Raising two teenage boys and an infant soap was no easy feat, but Betty heroically and resiliently rose to the task. 

Meanwhile, Corday writes about his own burgeoning career in music as a member of a band called  “Lucky Mud,” which ascended to become an opening act for Jimmy Hendrix in 1970.  For the first time ever, he reveals how his spiritual revelations and a near-death experience guided him away from a gratifying musical career, and into the world of Salem’s trials and tribulations.  These insightful and surprising experiences will fascinate DAYS viewers, as they offer a contextual backdrop for the passion and devotion that has fueled the series through good times and bad these past 20 years. 

In the second half of the book, Corday traces his beginnings on DAYS, and his ambivalence and insecurities about assuming the role of Executive Producer.  He reveals the details behind the show’s near-cancellation at the end of 1979 which led to firing a slew of popular actors in early 1980 (and which fans still refer to as the “Valentine’s Day Massacre”).  He shares how numerous network “sharks” were invested in taking over DAYS once his mother stepped down, and makes a strong argument explaining how the show would have unlikely survived if NBC had taken over. One can’t help but root for the young executive underdog who is trying desperately to keep his family’s dream afloat.

As a lifelong DAYS viewer, I was grateful to have the opportunity to learn more about the familial and spiritual backdrop of the show’s legacy.   This book helped me understand the reasoning behind some of the blatantly poor decision making process that appeared on-screen in recent years.  Corday specifically spends an entire chapter discussing the disastrous Salem Serial Killer storyline that played out between 2003-04, and freely acknowledges how it did irreparable damage to viewer loyalty and trust.  He shares details about the impact of  market crash of 2008 and how GE’s loss of 60% of the value of their stock resulted in the firing of Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn, and many other fan favorites. DAYS fans may still be upset about these judgment calls, but at least they will have a better understanding of why they took place.

So if you have ever enjoyed DAYS, have any interest in learning more about the complexities of running a soap in the 21st century, or simply enjoy a enduring and triumphant family story, then this book is highly recommended.  It certainly adds an emotional layer to this beloved soap, and will increase your viewing experience tenfold.

Be sure to pick up your copy of “The Days Of Our Lives: The True Story Of One Family’s Dream And The Untold History of Days Of Our Lives" here.  

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist now accepting new clients in New York City.  He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." For more information about scheduling an appointment, please email him at [email protected]

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great book. I might have to ask Santa for it.