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Aug 22 2008, 06:45 PM
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TV Guide

Shakeup in Salem: Was Days' Boss Fired to Save Show?

It's been a year since Ed Scott took over as show-runner of Days of Our Lives, and the NBC serial is far better looking, much better acted and infinitely more involving than when he arrived. In fact, the last few weeks have been killer. So why is he out on his ass? Scott, who helmed the top-rated soap The Young and the Restless before coming to Days, was fired on Aug. 15 and replaced by former One Life to Live exec producer Gary Tomlin.

Days owner/executive producer Ken Corday tells TV Guide he axed Scott because he clashed with head writer Dena Higley. "For me to deny there was friction between Dena and Ed would be a lie," Corday says. "There was friction and that's not a good thing for a network to perceive. It's not a good thing for the cast and crew, and it's not a good thing for the owner of the show to see." He adds that Scott's ouster "was important to the pick-up of the show." NBC has yet to renew Days after months of budget and licensing talks, but Corday says he now expects a new deal to be announced right after Labor Day.

Here, in a TV Guide exclusive, is Scott's take on the situation. Michael Logan

TVGuide.com: Your firing came as a shock to the soap world. Word is, you were surprised, too.
Ed Scott: You can usually sense when something like this is going to happen, but I was blindsided. One year ago, Ken Corday called me and said "I want to make a change" and offered me the job. One year later, Ken called me and said "I want to make a change."

TVGuide.com: So what the heck happened?
Scott: You know what? I'm not sure. But when I'm out, I'm out. If someone tells me they want a change, I'm not the type to sit there and argue or ask questions.

TVGuide.com: What about the charges that you were at odds with Dena Higley, and that you were rewriting her scripts to the extent that she took her grievance to the Writers Guild of America?
Scott: That is nonsense, a bunch of blown-up nothing. I gave notes on Dena's outlines. That's it. Take 'em or don't take 'em. That's what producer-writer meetings are about. You haggle about things, you suggest stuff, but always in the end, you let the writer do what the writer wants to do. There were never any screaming matches. Daytime drama is all about passion and purpose there will always be disagreements. I love Days and all the people there. It was a wonderful place to work and a wonderful company there's nobody there who doesn't want that show to succeed. The cast is always ready to work. There is no one big star, no divas.

TVGuide.com: Were you fired so Corday could get out of hot water with the WGA?
Scott: Maybe. I don't know.

TVGuide.com: Have you heard from the WGA?
Scott: I haven't heard anything personally. I know they [contacted] Corday.

TVGuide.com: Is there bad blood between you guys?
Scott: Whatever happened, it's not because he and I had hassles. I have nothing but respect for the guy. He has a tough job and a tremendous burden over there. The whole feeling on that set is because of him. He had to tell Frank Parker, who had just had bypass surgery, that they were killing off his character [Shawn Brady], and I've never seen a [termination] handled with such warmth, sensitivity and sincerity no bulls---. It made me respect Ken more than ever.

TVGuide.com: Under your watch, Days improved vastly on every level and you finally got the show some Emmy love. Higley's rep, on the other hand, is pretty spotty. Her run at OLTL was calamitous. She's big on the gimmicks, while characters and relationships often go to hell. So something doesn't smell right.
Scott: I am very proud of those seven nominations. I was trying to get the show to a place where we were listening to the heartbeat of the characters. It's halfway there, I think, and I'm really sorry I didn't complete the job. A soap must be character-driven. When it's right, the characters will lead you down a path of great drama. It's basic stuff. You've heard it a billion times. I just don't think people are committed to writing [about] family and real feelings and emotions. I care passionately about what I do, and Dena is passionate about the medium too. I like her very much. She's a very talented woman she's written some scenes that are probably some of the best writing I've ever seen.

TVGuide.com: Were you a sacrificial lamb here? I'm hearing there's more to this story that Sony, which distributes Days, wants greater creative involvement and that your ouster was part of that.
Scott: I'm not going to comment. You will have to do your own research on that. On one hand, I want to know what's really behind all this. On the other hand, I'll never know, so why get worked up over it? I'm getting old enough! I'm going to move on.

TVGuide.com: So what's to be learned from this hot mess?
Scott: I don't know. There was blood on the walls sometimes with [Y&R creator] Bill Bell. It happens when you care deeply. But I will tell you this: Bill Bell never compromised on quality ever. I learned that lesson sitting at the feet of the master, and I will carry it with me always.
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