THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES – THE TRUE STORY OF ONE FAMILY’S DREAM AND THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF DAYS OF OUR LIVES, written by Ken Corday, Executive Producer of “Days of Our Lives”
I am sure that most regular readers of this blog expect me to blast this book every which way from Sunday, but I do want to be fair.
There were some parts that I found entertaining and interesting. I enjoyed reading about how Ted and Betty Corday first created “Days of Our Lives”. I loved the backstage stories such as Bill and Susan Hayes’ long on-screen kiss after the cameras stopped rolling before they announced their real-life marriage. I was horrified about poor Andrew Masset who played the character of Larry Welch so well that he was getting hate mail from a psychopathic convict. I even liked the silly ghost stories of MacDonald Carey haunting the set (like he doesn’t have better things to do out there in the Great Beyond). These are some of the “tell-all” stories that I wanted to read more of. After all, the title is “The Untold History of Days of Our Lives”, right?
Um, well, that’s what I thought it was about.
My main complaint is that Ken doesn’t know his audience. The people who spend money on this book want to read about “Days of Our Lives”, not “The Untold History of Ken Corday”. Often, especially in the first half of the book, Ken would go off on long descriptions of subjects such as a much-too-researched genealogical history of the Corday family, his love of music, his childhood friends, his family homes and his rock band. With all due respect, I’m not sure too many people particularly care about this stuff…and if any DAYS actors and crew say so…well, a job’s hard to come by nowadays.
That being said, the book does enforce the idea of a human being behind that grinning executive we all know as Ken Corday. Several times, I sympathized with his plight. His father, Ted Corday, tragically passed away only one year after “Days of Our Lives” premiered. His mother, Betty Corday, never really got over the loss and succumbed to alcoholism. Of course, the most devastating tale was when Ken’s brother, Chris, became lost in the throes of manic depression and ultimately took his own life. Unsure if he was making the right decision, Ken took on his parents’ legacy for better or worse, determined to keep the show alive. I can appreciate all of the personal ordeals he has endured in his life.
If only Mr. Corday hadn’t thoroughly pissed me off in the second half of the book…
The chapters I find most offensive are about the “Hourglass Ladies”, the “Magnificent Seven” and the “Dirtiest Half Dozen”. Basically, you can just call these chapters “Kenny’s Favorite Picks, Parts 1, 2 and 3.” Why did he feel the need to put a fraction of the actors on a pedestal, favoring them with trite poetic descriptions and anecdotes accompanied with unnecessary character synopses…only to not-so-subtly shun others? Until this point, I wasn’t particularly enthralled with the book, but at least I wasn’t annoyed.
I have included a passage of such below because you truly have to read it to believe it:
“So there they are…the magnificent nine, The Hourglass Ladies.
If Days of our Lives were to wear this bejeweled crown for real, Frances Reid (Alice) would be the diamond. Susan Hayes (Julie) would be the emerald; Suzanne Rogers (Maggie), the ruby; and Peggy McCay (Caroline), the pearl. Kristian Alfonso (Hope) would be the sapphire; Mary Beth Evans (Kayla), the pink sapphire; Deidre Hall (Marlena), the yellow diamond; and Renee Jones (Lexie Carver), the alexandrite. And Alison Sweeney (Sami Brady) would be the pink diamond. What a perfect crown for our show! And beyond value…priceless.”
Apparently, Deidre Hall and Mary Beth Evans, the afore-mentioned yellow diamond and pink sapphire, came at too damned high a price to stay in the Days of Our Lives crown, but I digress…
I could have done with less flowery nonsense like this to have just a paragraph or two acknowledging some of the award-winning and acclaimed actors on the show who apparently didn’t make the cut of Kenny’s Favorite Picks. Actors like…oh, say, Melissa Reeves, Matthew Ashford, Charles Shaughnessy, Patricia Pease, Thaao Penghlis and Leann Hunley, just to name a few. Apparently, Missy, Charles and Patsy are good enough to be asked to return for the Frances Reid tribute, but not quite high status enough to make Kenny’s book. Ken’s happy to give Leann a shoutout as part of the many returns who have “reinvigorated Salem” with the reinvention which apparently is making the show the best thing since sliced bread today (I must have missed the memo about that one), but someone still forgot to give Emmy Winner Leann Hunley that pesky little contract. Matthew Ashford, who had so much acclaim as Jack Deveraux back in the heyday, barely rates a mention besides that he apparently has unusual taste in clothing at parties. And as for Thaao? Well, even Kenny can’t keep the characters of Tony and Andre Dimera straight since he said (regarding the Salem Serial Killer storyline) that “in the end, Tony Dimera would be revealed as the real one behind not only his own death but also those of the rest of the characters.” Speaking of Andre Dimera (I’m sure that’s who Ken really meant in that last sentence), that character was known as both the “Salem Slasher” and the “Salem Serial Killer Mastermind” but didn’t make Kenny’s Favorite Picks as one of the great DAYS villains. What does that tell you?
Also, too many times, Ken seems to be spreading mea culpas around that only serve to satisfy himself. He’s sorry if he ever disappointed but…well, he kinda really wanted to be in a rock band. He was sorry he let James E. Reilly write the most ludicrous and over-the-top storyline of all time, the Salem Serial Killer and Melaswen story, which nearly killed the soap opera itself but…well, NBC and Sony made him take that crazy PASSIONS writer back. He was sorry that the recession made him fire Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn, Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans but…hey, he at least mentioned them in his favorite picks chapters, right?
For Ken Corday, I’m inclined to use that much-quoted phrase, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job”…but…oh, well…never mind.
I wish Ken the best of luck promoting his book at the NBC Studio Store later this month. I’d go see him and get an autographed copy, but it turns out that I’ve got a fan luncheon to go to instead. After all, that was then and this is now, right?
Book Review by FancyFace