Despite buzz to the contrary and a network executive all but declaring the soap dead, NBC has reached a deal with Sony Pictures TV to extend the run of Days of our Lives. The show, which could have seen its 43-year run come to an end next year, will go on -- but at a cost.
As the ratings for daytime drama series continue their downward tick, the soaps have had to slash their budgets to help make ends meet. Currently, NBC pays somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.75 million dollars per week for the rights to broadcast Days of our Lives. In renewing Days of our Lives, NBC has reportedly slashed that figure dramatically. With less money coming in, the budget crunch just got a whole lot crunchier for DAYS execs. Moreover, NBC only agreed to extend its contract with Sony and Corday Productions for 18 months -- a far cry from the usual five-year renewals the two sides had negotiated in the past.
Still, the renewal is a vote of confidence for the only soap left on NBC. It had long been speculated that NBC would not renew Days of our Lives and the show would end sometime in 2009. In fact, in January 2007, NBC Universal Television president Jeff Zucker announced that Days of Our Lives was "unlikely to continue [on NBC] past 2009."
As an added glimmer of light for worried DAYS fans, NBC has offered to extend Days of our Lives' contract through September 2011 if "certain parameters on the show are met," according to the entertainment publication Variety. It's unclear what those goals are, but clearly slashing the show's budget is a primary goal.
Accordingly, soapcentral.com has learned that Days of our Lives is asking nearly all of its cast members to accept a pay cut. Other cast members aren't being given an option -- they're being given pink slips. Long-time DAYS supercouple Deidre Hall (Marlena Evans) and Drake Hogestyn (John Black) have both been informed that they will exit the NBC soap in January. Meanwhile, last week, Jay Kenneth Johnson (Philip Kiraikis) abruptly ended contract negotiations with the show and cleared out his dressing room over purported monetary issues. The three departures are just a taste of things to come as the show will undoubtedly be cutting more of its higher-paid stars.
Officially, a Days of our Lives spokesperson declined comment on the show's renewal, noting that "nothing is official at this time." An official statement should be forthcoming.