New DAYS writer shares his vision of Salem's future: “We're not pulling any punches”
Posted Monday, August 31, 2015 10:58:00 AM
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Having recently taken over the reins at Days of our Lives, new co-head writer Josh Griffith reveals that the writing he and partner Dena Higley have begun to churn out is just like “the stuff that... made DAYS famous.”

The buzz surrounding Days of our Lives as it quickly approaches its 50th anniversary is so strong, it's nearly drowning out all other soap opera news. There have already been returns galore and smart casting choices that have fans applauding, as well as the recent kickoff of a murder mystery storyline that is sure to have viewers on the edge of their seats, leading up to the show's November 8 birthday and beyond. But what else is in store for Salem as it prepares to turn 50 years old? New co-head writer Josh Griffith reveals a plethora of secrets in a new interview that sheds some light on what he and cowriter Dena Higley have planned for the NBC soap.

As fans have already begun to see, Griffith and Higley's material is starting out with a bang. The gripping murder mystery that just kicked off was their idea, and that's just one of the big stories that helped naturally bring some familiar faces like Stephen Nichols (Patch), Peter Reckell (Bo), and Alison Sweeney (Sami) back to the canvas. "We have an opportunity here to tell a really intense, exciting, suspenseful story where we can show the audience that we're not kidding around because people are gonna get killed, they're gonna die, and I think in many cases, the audience is going to go, 'Oh man, I didn't see that coming,'" the scribe says in an interview in the latest issue of Soap Opera Digest. "It was an opportunity to really grab the audience and say, 'Guess what? We're not pulling any punches.' I think the surprises in this story are going to have the audience really gasping."

But there's more to Salem's 50th than what fans have already been privy to. "[Executive producer Ken Corday] had the great idea to have a bicentennial celebration that will tie to the history of the town," Griffith teases. "It made it easy to go, 'That's the way we can draw in this character and that character and then we can create great story.' What we didn't want to do is make it a, 'Let's parade out the iconic characters for a week to say hi and visit and then go away.' We had to build story so there was a reason for them to come back to town. We really worked very hard at grounding the celebration in story-driven material as opposed to stunt and flashy material for the sake of the 50th. It's not just lip service for the 50th. We're bringing all these people back in heavy duty story that's gonna spin into new story and more new story. We're writing March and a lot of what we're writing now is still playing off what we established for the 50th, so I think the fans are going to be very happy."

The former One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless writer admits that he's been a fan of DAYS since the 80s and always secretly wanted to write for the show -- a turn of events he says was 25 years in the making. And the self-admitted fan says he's pleased to share the news that popular couples like Bo and Hope (Kristian Alfonso), John (Drake Hogestyn) and Marlena (Deidre Hall), and Steve and Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) will be getting a lot of screen time. "What we really wanted to do was center everything on core and iconic characters more than anything else," he says of those couples as well as other existing fan favorites and returning characters like Philip, who will now be played by John-Paul Lavoisier. "There were a lot of new characters that came in over the last couple of years. What we immediately started thinking about without Ken even saying, 'Here's what I want you to do,' was that, especially since you've got the 50th coming up, we've really got to bring back characters that people love and really get the stories centered around what has made DAYS so iconic... [And] by focusing on story that really pulled from history, it naturally brought those core characters back to the forefront and pushed the newer characters off to the periphery."

The writing will soon be on the wall, so to speak, and Griffith hopes that what he and Higley have created is what viewers have been begging for. "I'm so entrenched in this and so determined to make it a show that they're going to love, love, love to watch and feel like, 'Yep, that's my DAYS,'" he explains. "It's an iconic DAYS, but it's for the 21st century... It's going to be a faster moving DAYS. The look of it, the feel of it, is going to be much more primetime-like. It's really the best of both worlds and I think they're going to just love going on the ride."

To read Griffith's full interview, be sure to pick up the latest issue of Soap Opera Digest.

What do you think about some of the changes Griffith and Higley have made and will be making to Salem? What are you most excited about in DAYS' new chapter? What elements do you think are still missing or still need to be addressed? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below, on our message boards, or by submitting Feedback.

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