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DAYS Head Writer Ron Carlivati Talks On: Ben Weston, Soap Amnesia, Doppelgängers, and the Time Jump

Photo: JPI

Days of our Lives viewers have been going through some changes over the past month since the launch of the innovative time jump from the creative mind of the series and Daytime Emmy-winning head writer, Ron Carlivati.  As episode after episode unfolds, the audience has been finding out just where their favorite Salem residents have landed and with whom, in the one year flash-forward.  There have been shocking deaths revealed, longtime couples facing different kinds of obstacles that could change their relationships forever, and some characters brought back on the canvas, in one form or the other, to shake things up.

On the series finale of the Inside Salem: Days of our Lives Podcast,  Ron Carlivati was the very special guest and addressed many of the decisions that went into making the flash- forward happen starting with when Jennifer (Melissa Reeves) wakes up from her coma after her fall, thanks to Princess Gina (Kristian Alfonso), and how it impacts the canvas.  You can listen to the can’t-miss interview here via iTunes or at NBC.com/Inside Salem.

Due to the length of our conversation with the talented head scribe, some of the questions and answers did not make it into the podcast finale due to time constraints.  So, we have brought you the rest the interview here as Ron discusses: the popularity of  #Cin, back-from-the-dead storylines, writing for the original series on the DOOL app and further creative decisions that went into crafting the one-year time jump.  Check out what Ron had to say below.

Photo: JPI

You have been able to make #Cin, the hottest duo on daytime by taking a now reformed serial killer, Ben Weston (Rob Scott Wilson) and pairing him with the daughter of one of DAYS all-time supercouples, Bo and Hope in Ciara Brady (Victoria Konefal).  Were you ever  concerned as to how this story/romance would play to the audience at home, because in reality no parent would ever just stand by and let their child get involved with a man who strangled and killed women, previously? 

Ron:  To sort of try to glorify a guy who strangled women and make him into a romantic lead, we don’t do that lightly.  Not unlike, Todd Manning (Roger Howarth) on One Life to Live who was a rapist, and who became sort of an anti-hero, but also a romantic lea.  And in this day and age, it’s even a bigger decision to do something like that, I think.  So, that said, it is a soap opera and there are certain things where we know we are pushing the envelope.  We know in the real world that no mother would ever get past her daughter being with a guy who murdered, killed, and strangled three women or strangled and shot one, but the pairing worked so well.

Photo: JPI

In the time jump, you gave Ben an intriguing prison cell mate in Will Horton, given that Ben had “killed” him previously.  Add to that you brought back Ben’s criminal father, Clyde back into the mix.  There’s lots of prison orange these days on the screen.

Ron:  When we knew we were sending Ben to prison, then obviously father and son have to cross path. It just added another element, so it wasn’t just going to be Ben and Will (Chandler Massey) talking to each other, and making a shawl together like Martha Stewart. (Laughs). Ben’s relationship with Clyde was interesting to me.  As horrible as Clyde was and is – there does seem to be some sort of love that he has for Ben.

Photo: JPI

On the soaps, and as has been part of DAYS enduring legacy, characters are killed off, only to be brought back to life somewhere down the road. Many return with classic soap amnesia as a vehicle to drive story.  Is there ever a time when as a writer, or as a soap fan, you think “enough is enough”, and characters should just stay dead?  Many fans who watch daytime dramas get very invested in tragic death stories, where characters have these shocking or sudden, or long goodbyes, and the viewers goes through the grieving process; along with the other characters, for what then seems like a waste of an emotional investment when said character turns back up alive.

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Ron:  We were talking about bringing Jack (Matthew Ashford) back right around that same time we had the Will story.  We couldn’t bring two people back from the dead at the same time, and that’s why Jack’s return kind of got put on the back-burner, so we could do the ‘Will is alive’ story arc.  Look, the audience will go with you, especially if they want somebody back desperately.  They will overlook how did it happen, and how could they be alive.  They will accept almost any explanation, but I think you’re right, if you do it too much, you tend to water down the permanence of death … especially deaths that you saw on-camera.

Photo: JPI

Viewers know you love doppelgänger storylines.  And, in the time jump you brought back none other than Hattie Adams (Deidre Hall).  Why the decision to bring Hattie back at this time?  I know Deidre loves playing her.

Ron:  I think Deidre likes playing something different than Marlena, because she played Marlena for many, many years, and she knows her like the back of her hand.  Hattie is an escape and something fun, and the chance to do and say outrageous things that Marlena would never do.  So, we bring her back whenever we can to have fun with, and again, it seemed to work because  she was in prison, and we set Eve in prison when we started the time jump off, and we’re like, “Who’s Eve (Kassie DePaiva) going to be talking to?” and we’re like, “Oh, well of course.  It has to be Hattie.” (Laughs)

When do you first see the fruits of your labor?  Do you see a feed from the set as the show is taping? Do you receive episodes where you see how what was written has come to life? 

Ron:  In prior shows, One Life to Live and on GH, I saw it when it aired. At One Life, I was in the studio, so I often saw production shooting scenes.  Here, they send me the completed shows once it has been completely edited, the music has been put into it, and it’s all ready to roll, and they email me the link to 5 or 6 shows.  So, I could in theory watch a couple of weeks ahead of the audience, but I tend to (unless I’m so, so curious about how a certain thing turned out) watch it when it’s on TV.

Photo: JPI

The “Lani (Sal Stowers) and Kristen (Stacy Haiduk) joining a convent” storyline is at a critical point in story.  How did you come up with the decision to put Lani, and of all people, Kristen together and about to take their vows as nuns, and kind of becoming bff’s?

Ron:  I mean, you can’t imagine sort of two more unlikely friends as Kristen and Lani.  We grew to really love the relationship that developed between the two of them.  I think we sat down and said about the time jump, “There have to be enough big changes that you do the double-take.”  Like, Will is Ben’s cell mate, Adrienne is dead, and Justin and Kayla are together now.  You had to have enough of those WTF moments to justify passing a year of time.

You have also been writing series for the DOOL app.  What did you think of Chad and Abby in Paris with that being the initial one and how it all came to pass?

Ron:   It was fun.  I had no time.  I was writing six episodes a week of DAYS, and I was asked “By the way, can you write two seasons of a web/app show for us?” (Laughs) Greg Meng (Co-executive producer, Days of our Lives) has really been the mastermind behind this app and developing this app into something.  I love all of the stuff you guys came up with for all the behind the scenes content, but I know that Greg really wanted original series content on it, too.  Chad (Billy Flynn) and Abigail (Kate Mansi) just seemed like the logical couple to do that with.  You wanted somebody tied to Salem that wasn’t currently on the campus, but you know the audience cares about what their up to, and Chad and Abby just seemed perfect.  The process was totally different because I’m used to writing six outlines a week that are 15 pages long, and all of the sudden, I’m like, “She comes in, this happens, and this happens.” .  That’s like a whole episode of an app series right there.  Corday Productions produced it while they were producing the regular show, and they made a special set into Chad and Abigail’s apartment, which I thought looked incredible.

Photo: JPI

Chad & Abby in Paris had a bit of a different look and feel then the regular airshows, which I think made it enticing.

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Ron:  I loved the look of it.  I felt it was just a little bit different than Salem.  We had the establishing shots of the Eiffel Tower and all of that stuff, and look, we had to keep it simple, but we added in Austin (Austin Peck).  We had Tony (Thaao Penghlis) come in season 2.  We had the new characters of Juliette (Rachele Schank) and Sylvie (Shawna Della-Ricca).  So, it was fun, and it weirdly just timed out so perfectly because we did 8, took like a week off, did another 8, and that last episode was posted right when Jennifer fell.

Right, so it timed perfect to get Chad & Abby back on the airshows.

Ron:  It timed out perfectly so that we could have Abigail get a call: “Something has happened to my mother.  We have to go back to Salem.”  So, you last saw Chad and Abby in Paris, and then the following week they were back in Salem.

Photo: JPI

Now, with the kind of massive move for DAYS with the time jump, you have to figure out: “Who are the casualties?  Who am I going to lose?” Viewers learned in short order that: Adrienne (Judi Evans) isn’t alive, Haley (Thia Megia) isn’t alive, and Jordan (Chrishell Stause) isn’t alive.  What went into the decision-making process to kill those characters?  I’m assuming it was to further the story of others on the canvas.

Ron:  Yes.  Anytime we kill somebody, it breaks my heart every time, because these are like my babies.  You fall in love with these characters, and you care about them a lot, and you care about the people who play them.  So, it’s a big decision to say, “Let’s kill them.”  It may be a great story, like, “I’m going to get this amazing story if I kill X,” but that’s a person and a job, and it’s not something we ever do lightly.  That said, in a year of passage of time, you know that life and death is going to happen, and to us, it felt like to really signify the passage of time, there had to be at least one or two people who are no longer alive, and then show how that affects our story.

Photo: JPI

Did you ever think that instead of 1 year that you’d do a bigger jump?  Like, “What if I did 5 years?”  Because it’s interesting, I was reading some comments on social media from fans who are like, “What year is it?  Is it just 1 year?  Why didn’t they do 5?” (Laughs)

Ron:  5 seemed like a lot.  I think people change physically a lot in 5 years. I wasn’t prepared to cast little children as teenagers… that would be a lot. (Laughs)  I think you run the risk of it being almost too disorienting for the audience.  Also, then it would be me having to figure out what happened over 5 years instead of just 1. (Laughs)  So, 1 year just kind of seemed perfect, and it had to be an even year so that even though it’s a crazy coincidence that Jennifer woke up 1 year to the day she fell into the coma, you needed Thanksgiving to still be Thanksgiving, and Christmas to still fall on Christmas, and that kind of thing.  So, it had to be an even year.  I think it worked out great and I hope the audience continues to go on the journey with us, because there is a lot more to come!

So, have you been enjoying the DAYS time jump thus far? Which storyline has piqued your interest most? Let us know via the comment section below.

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Lamont
Lamont

No don’t like the change

Martha A Kretzer
Martha A Kretzer

Me either….

Ladonna Newton
Ladonna Newton

7 no I hate the time jump. Nothing makes any sense. Steve as Stephanie is ridiculous. I hated princess Gina the first time around. I’m about to give up on this show,and I’ve watched nearly since the beginning

view88
view88

There is nothing surprising about the time jump storylines at all, except that it’s got eight months to go and all of the actors are off contract, and the webisodes are for morons. The fans and new children are having none of it. The fans are the only ones who sorta kinda understand it, but for the few who like it there a multitudes who see the writing on the wall, and even Sami Brady can’t fix it.

Su000
Su000

Out of all the writers at this point in time
Ron Carlivati is king.
He is a Brave writer and he will push a limit.
He brings mystery and suspense.
I wish to hades he was the head writer for GH.
GH is drama Free –
it has become pathetically Bland it’s so stale it’s moldy.
RC will deliver the action..

viewer88
viewer88

LOL,
is it you Sue? you are usually so spot on that this post feels like its from Sue with a Re-Ron personality disorder.
Drama is stupid unless the audience connects emotionally to the story, most long time Days fans are mourning right now,
and you suggest Ron C ‘brings the action’?
????
by action, do you mean killing another legacy, I could agree with there….
viewer88

Su000
Su000

hi viewer ..
Do you watch GH, all so?
GH is stiflingly boring to say it’s pathetic would be a soft word..
At the least RC doesn’t `comma you lol
You might think his writing is UCK but you’re awake to notice. LOL ..

viewer88
viewer88

All I can really say, because I agree, GH is has lots of stupid too…
But there GH has it’s dramatic, emotional moments that keep me connected.
Oscars death, Sonnys Dad, Monica dealing with. Drews 1 & 2. there are more.
Days has become a farce, easy to laugh at sometimes, but it makes me feel nothing lately.
I did feel sad for Robin Stasser though, finally getting a job, so they could turn the character she was to play into a cartoon.

Su000
Su000

hi viewer..
every soap has something for someone.
They are all makebelieve, so its what’s fits your fantasy.
Some like lovey-dovey junk.
Others like hard-hitting drama (me..
A good gripping mystery is always #1.
Some like vets and family
Some like ‘campy ..
We need to find the best fit..
0oooh a great many would love to turn
the calendar back to the 80s-90s.
whichever we expect to have great writers’
but- good writers are an endangered species.
Seems we have to ‘take what we can get LOL

Phil
Phil

I love this storyline! The time jump has really intrigued me, but don’t like that Adrienne is dead!

Momo
Momo

I’m enjoying it. I don’t like all the changes, Adrienne and Brady’s baby dead, but it’s okay. Looking forward to what happens next.

DMRR
DMRR

RE-RON. The fake mask king. Ridiculous.

jim davis
jim davis

Not so much…kind of confusing when you suddenly jump into a story that happened off screen ect…This Is Days Of Dr.Who…Not Days Of Our Lives-miss when soaps were soaps and not scifi/fantasy ect!!

Helen L Dehner
Helen L Dehner

Love the time jump! Makes for more drama and the unexpected!

matthew
matthew

It has given me reason to finally stop watching the show. Too much violence, every character seems to carry and pull a gun, the stupidity of the storylines of chip implants into brains, Bringing Stepho back as Steve (the day I removed the record from my dvr), Two non-Catholics becoming nuns, It’s time to place this show to rest like OLTL and AMC – writers ruined those, now you have destroyed Days. And don’t a year from now pull a “dream” sequence that never happened!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

In the picture of Billy Flynn and Kate Mansi, it appears as though Flynn is wearing a plant-like helmet. Oh, never mind…

davlestev1
davlestev1

I thought his hair was tinted green. Once I finally looked up from him sitting down. LOL.

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Hi davlestev1! Thanks for your reply — and for the laugh!

Shay
Shay

Gentleman James!!! I noticed your name in the “recent comments” column, and since you have been so scarce as of late, thought I would check out this thread to see about what you were referring! That purely unintended “optical illusion” looks like a green-dyed “Mohawk” to me…LOL! At any rate, it’s so nice to see you here again…you’ve been missed! And right in the nick of time for me to wish a most Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours! Welcome back, my friend!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Shay, I cannot thank you enough for the warm greeting! It’s so nice to be welcomed and remembered… And you nailed it on the “green-dyed ‘Mohawk!'” I just had another thought: a live Chia pet! I also wish you a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! Please take care, Friend.

Shay
Shay

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!!!! Ding Ding Ding…We have a winner and it’s James! You called it to a “t”…that is EXACTLY what Flynn’s “festive hairdo” resembles! Now I will never be able to pass a ChiaPet store display without thinking of you! (If they still even make this perennial Christmas present that everybody wants…said no one ever!!! I’ll bet they do!) Regardless, it’s always a pleasure to touch base with you, my friend, and even nicer during this wonderful holiday season! As for being “welcomed and remembered,” that is a given where I’m concerned! You’re unforgettable, Gentleman James!” Take care, enjoy this beautiful time of the year and don’t be a stranger! Your unique perspective on the state of today’s remaining soaps vs. those of daytimes yore is always a treat to behold, and I shall be looking forward to reading your “reviews” in the long winter days to come…especially in reference to “It’s A Wonderful Sonny Life” on GH!!! (Yep, you can bet your Santa boots we’re due for yet another “Corinthos Christmas Extravaganza!” LOL…) Later!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Ha! Thanks a million, Shay! Thanks so much for your kind words. You are indeed a day-brightener, a role you’ve played plenty of times before! I think quite highly of you! Your insightful, articulate commentary is a reliable source of enjoyment at this site.

BTW, my soap viewing has actually spiked in recent weeks — I’m loving the time jump on DOOL! And your humorous allusion to GH Sonny, knowing my distaste for the character, is appreciated. I can’t see returning as a GH viewer, not as long as that character is front and center.

I will check in here more regularly, peruse the postings, and add to the discussion when I find such inspiration. In the meantime, best to you and your loved ones! I hope your holiday season is filled with joy. And as my fave Karen Carpenter sings in “Merry Christmas Darling,” Happy New Year too!

Shay
Shay

@James…I’m so glad you are enjoying DOOL again, although the “time jump” seems to be a controversial choice of plot device amongst regular viewers. (For example, CeeCee, aka, “Celia,” and her gran are not fans of it from what she had relayed to me…LOL!) However, any machination which brings back Stephen Nichols works for me, no matter how outre’!!! (Loved him both as “Patch” and “Stefan Cassadine!”) On the other hand, I do believe GH needs a similar jolt to escape its dreadful sense of ennui…personally, I would be in favor of a “Dallas move,” i.e., the notion that the past (oh, say five years…) has been a terrible nightmare and none of it happened except in the furtive dreams of a sleeping character would be absolutely ideal. (That could have worked awhile back if Sam would have awakened and found your not-so-dead favorite, Jason, in her shower…of course, that ship has now sailed. But there’s always the sadly-departed Duke with his beloved Anna, or best of all, a still-missed AJ with his mourning-mum, Monica! Both of these women deserve the happiness that such a miraculous move would bring.. ) Then again, I also loved the “snowglobe scenario” that St. Elsewhere used in its final episode…whereby one of the central doctor’s son had imagined the entire concept of the eponymous hospital in his mind whilst gazing upon said object…with all the children about in Port Charles these days, that slightly-abridged idea would work for a reset back in time, too! But I digress…unfortunately, GH is what it is…and that inevitably means Sonny being featured front and center with every possible means to humanize him being implemented from here to eternity! At any rate, it has been a pleasure to be in touch with you again, too, James! I hope your renewed interest in Days continues into 2020 and that you will remain a presence here at MFTV with your always concise and well-put thoughts…In terms of Karen Carpenter? What a voice! So utterly flawless and dreamy…she was definitely a one-of-a-kind vocalist who left us far too soon…but what a gift of those beautiful songs she left behind…including her indelible Christmas selections! “Merry Christmas, Darling,” indeed! Lastly, thank you, “Gentleman James” for your ever sweet, generous sentiments which are deeply appreciated!…It’s the privilege of “meeting” such lovely people like you that makes visiting MF’s website a uniquely satisfying experience…being able to dissect the good, bad and even ugly of our soaps with the like-minded (and sometimes, not so like-minded!) is simply the cherry on top! Later, my dear friend, and best wishes during this blessed season and beyond!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Hello Shay! So elated to read your praise of Karen Carpenter! My fandom has been a lifelong passion. I have been known to go on and on about her… Suffice it to say, her voice was amazing. I agree further with you about so much of what you wrote: Stephen Nichols’ roles, the dreary status of GH, Jason in shower, Duke, Anna, Monica, St. Elsewhere’s brilliant finale…

I also agree with your take on the “privilege of ‘meeting’ such lovely people” here. We are certainly blessed with that. I do thank you for your kind words for me. I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday Season and the best in the new decade! Cheers!

Shay
Shay

Oh, James!…..These threads are quite frankly far too tempting for going off-topic on a wide range of wonderful tangents with equally wonderful people—- like you!…It is clearly one of my worst indulgences, so “curbing my enthusiasm” for engaging in this practice will definitely be at the top of my list of new year’s resolutions…something I believe Mr. Fairman will greatly appreciate…LOL! However….until then: I will simply say that I can easily understand your devotion for the late Karen Carpenter and her treasure trove of now classic songs…she was a one-of-a-kind performer and her untimely departure still registers decades later…no female vocalist has since even come close to replicating her stunning sound. I have watched a few programs featuring “her story,” and what was so painfully obvious was that her death wasn’t just a great tragedy for her fans, but her brother, as well. Whilst Karen was the indelible “voice” of the Carpenters, Richard was the musical genius behind the unique, trademark harmonies of this synergistic duo…without his beloved sister by his side, he has seemed a rather lost soul, even though he has dedicated his immense talent to numerous other praiseworthy projects during these subsequent years. Fortunately for us, he has also channeled his energies (and obviously still deeply-felt grief for Karen) toward lovingly protecting and preserving her/their impressive entertainment legacy which he has graciously shared with the public for our continued enjoyment…what an amazing gift! Now then…back to the soaps!!!! Let’s hope that at this same time next year we are still here at this website discussing and debating the merits—or lack thereof—of all four of the remaining shows! I truly do believe that both Days and GH are hanging by the proverbial thread, so to speak…hence any rejuvenation/restoration of these soaps to some semblance of their former glory days would be a most welcome development that’s virtually a necessity for their very survival…it looks like that is currently in the process of occurring in Salem…now if only that same sort of miracle could be witnessed in Port Charles!!!! Having said that, I won’t hold my breath for the latter, because I’ve always sensed that there’s an ingrained mindset at GH that really refuses to both honor its rich history and build the future around the show’s once-successful formula/characters…it now seems more about creating/maintaining a hybrid version of GH/OLTL with a dash of AMC thrown in for good measure and that is where it has horribly gone awry from my perspective…Although I watched all three soaps in their heydays, I am—first and foremost—a GH fan, and often feel slighted by too much attention being paid to new players whose sole purpose appears to be as a far-too-convenient vehicle for recycling actors from those other two now-defunct ABC soaps. Their constantly-added presence promote feelings of divergence and dissonance from the show’s more traditional themes and flavor, which leaves me wanting much more than is being delivered at present. Since this scenario has been repeated time and time again—no matter the… Read more »

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Great to read your commentary, Shay! And, of course, I appreciate the kind words about the Carpenters, a life-long passion/enjoyment of mine. I totally agree with you on the status and your characterization of GH, once also a “passion/enjoyment of mine.” Thanks again for writing! Best to you, Friend!

Shay
Shay

Thank you for your gracious reply, “Gentleman James!” Hope you are having a wonderful holiday! “See” you in 2020!

FormerFan
FormerFan

I’m sorry, but no. There is no explanation that will justify Ben as a romantic lead, and it’s especially insulting that so many plans were tied to him being in prison. It’s not amazing in any way that Will is in the same cell as his attempted killer. Will would never be his cellmate, and for that matter Will likely wouldn’t have gone to prison for something that everyone has described as a genuine accident.

You can say Ben & Ciara work well together, but I completely disagree because they’re the reason I can no longer watch. Beyond that, too many popular couples were shaken up following the time jump. I no longer have an incentive to watch WilSon when they’re split up by some bs story. The time jump itself isn’t the problem, but the terrible stories and execution of those stories is. Please find someone to save this show from itself.

Myrna E Cobart
Myrna E Cobart

Hate it! Ruining the show!

Sally Bradley
Sally Bradley

I like the change with the exception of Princess Gina. That’s just ridiculous, and there is no way Cierra wouldn’t know. Otherwise, I’m intrigued with the rest.

Adam
Adam

I like it so far minus then killing Adrienne and Jordan. I’m fine with killing Hailey, she didn’t work for me.

Joy
Joy

I know it’s a soap opera and you feel you can take liberties for storyline shock value…… however I don’t think there is much knowledge of the Catholic faith.. I found the nun story insulting. When they were cursing in the chapel took off part of their habit and threw it at the alter I was done. I won’t watch that storyline. I was disappointed in that writing the story could have been fulition better.
I have enjoyed your show but will pick and choose what I watch from now on only certain storylines.

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But as usual at this time of year, NBC, Sony (the soap’s distributor) and Corday Productions are engaged it the renewal window which also happens at fall at the beginning of the new year.

Now, it looks like there is no doubt there is more Salem to come! Buckle-up for more intriguing stories within the series innovative time jump in the coming months … and that the four networks soaps are all here to stay for now.

Share your thoughts on Teledgy’s comments that ‘Days’ will definitely live on to see another day on NBC via the comment section below

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Video du Jour

DAYS Eric Martsolf and Stacy Haiduk chat with Michael Fairman at Day of Days 2019; during their conversation the on-screen dup talk about the latest developments of Brady and Kristen within the series time-jump and more. Leave A Comment

The Michael Channel

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Power Performance

Genie Francis as Laura

General Hospital

Airdate: 1-6-2020 –

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