End of ‘Days’? Long-Running Soap Is Basically Cancelled

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We may soon live in a world without Days of Our Lives. Fans of the daytime soap opera–which has been on the air since 1965–have just learned that the entire cast has been released from their contracts.

What does that mean for the actors, and for the show as a whole?

An Unprecedented Move

Amid negotiations between NBC and Sony Pictures Television, the news broke that the entire cast has been released from their contracts. In non-industry terms, that means they’ve essentially been laid off.

It is highly unusual for a production to lay off its cast–especially if there’s even a slim chance that the show could go back into production. Re-upping those contracts is a lot more complicated than just filling out a new employee timesheet.

The actors are now all free to find work elsewhere, rather than waiting in limbo until NBC decides whether to cancel the show.

An insider told Yahoo that the studio, the network, and Corday Productions (who actually cuts the deals with the actors) are hoping to cut costs and force the cast to accept a lower salary.

“It’s actually a shrewd — if cynical — business move,” The insider said. “If Days gets picked up, [Corday] can offer the actors new contacts at a reduced rate and with a ‘take-it-or-leave’ it attitude. Worst case scenario, they lose half their cast. Best case scenario [for Corday], everyone agrees to return at a lower salary.”

What’s Going to Happen Now?

Because there are 8 months of episodes already filmed, fans of the show will still get to enjoy the upcoming 55th season. After that? Things aren’t looking great.

The show is going on indefinite hiatus while NBC decides what to do. There are three likely possibilities. The network could ax the show, effective immediately, and let the season finale serve as series finale as well.

Alternately, NBC could give the show an abbreviated final season to wrap up loose ends and give the characters a chance to say goodbye.

The third–and, if we’re being honest, least likely–option is that the network will decide to move forward with season 56 next year. If that happens, then expect NBC to cut back on costs by slashing salaries or cutting cast members entirely.

The End of an Era?

Soap operas have been losing ground for years. As audiences lose interest in the (deliciously cheesy) shows, advertisers abandon ship. Even though these shows are relatively cheap to make, they still get canceled if they stop making money.

If Days of Our Lives ends up being cancelled, more than half of the major, long-running soap operas will be gone.

  • Guiding Light (1952-2009)
  • As the World Turns (1956-2010)
  • All My Children (1970-2011)
  • One Life to Live (1986-2012)
  • Days of Our Lives (1965-?)
  • The Young and the Restless (1973-now)
  • The Bold and the Beautiful (1987-now)
  • General Hospital (1963-now)

Ironically, the show just took a big creative gamble by fast-forwarding one year into the future at the start of the most recent season. They were hoping to pull off a soft reset to keep the storylines feeling fresh. Instead, they may end up getting cancelled.