Foreword by Roy B. Steinberg
Producer and Director | Days of Our Lives, Guiding Light and All My Children
As a producer and director of some of America’s most beloved soap operas, I’ve become an expert at suspending reality. Like any TV show, the audience of a soap opera desires a form of entertainment that gets their minds off their own problems by trading reality for one hour of immersion into the tribulations of others.
Yet, soap operas are a genre that seem to parallel real life more closely than any entertainment format. Despite a more recent decline of ratings in the past few years, it is no surprise why the daytime soap was so popular for many decades: The suspension of reality is just a thinly cloaked version of what goes on behind any door within the borders of any town across America.
Indeed, on the sets of Days of Our Lives and The Guiding Light, two soaps in which I was intimately involved, the drama on the stage often lived on in the production studio offices long after the cameras stopped rolling for the day. Since office suites and boardrooms across the country have long been described as living soap operas, the premise of reality colliding with its shiny TV-based doppelgänger is what intrigued me most about this book’s potential.
When Jack Stahlmann and Mark Foster first approached me about their concept, I understood immediately the challenges they needed to overcome while using the soap opera format as a backdrop to their story -- challenging not because of any inherent complexity; but because of the need to overcome a soap’s eerie and often contemptuous similarity to real life.
What the authors unveil to the reader are the struggles undertaken by employees and managers in nearly any office setting. Whether it’s about roles, role fit, responsibilities, management tactics, or employee reactions, the emotional soup that pours down office hallways and coats workers with heavy doses of drama are cleverly demonstrated here.
In this book are lessons for employees and managers alike. When daily life on the job intersects with the drama of a soap opera, how can managers and employees come together to create a strong cast that produces a strong result, day in and day out? This book craftily explores that very idea.
The book is divided into two parts, both revolving around the same story, with each written from two different perspectives. From Jack, you will get the perceptions and reactions of a company employee who arrives at his 9-to-5 job only to discover that his office has transformed into a soap set. From Mark, you will read his reactions to the same offbeat soap opera scenario; but this time, it’s written from the perspective of a more senior company manager.
The differences in how each writer reacts and manages through the sudden chaos of a soap opera production, with parallels to a typical corporate work environment, make this a classic read.