EXCLUSIVE: Not much has changed on Days of Our Lives following an investigation into misconduct allegations against co-executive producer/director Albert Alarr and a toxic work environment he and his team allegedly fostered, with Alarr still in charge at the venerable daytime drama.
Now the DoOL cast are taking things into their own hands, with a petition that calls for a new leader on the show, which streams on Peacock. It has been signed by more than 25 cast members to date.
In the document, a copy of which was obtained by Deadline, the actors refer to the “traumatic and disheartening” recent developments on the show chronicled in Deadline’s June 25 report.
“As a result of said actions of the current [co-] executive producer Albert Alarr, mentioned in the report, many of us feel — and will continue to feel — very uncomfortable and distraught should he stay involved with the show,” the petition reads. “Many of us have either been physically or verbally violated by him, including witnessing those objectionable and offensive actions.”
The petition goes on to call for Alarr to be replaced with another director-producer who has the cast’s respect and trust. “We all want to make the most of this significant moment, not just for us in entertainment, but for our loyal viewers and the culture as a whole,” the actors wrote.
DoOL was dark last week, when Deadline’s report was published, and was supposed to return to production this week, with Alarr scheduled to direct his regular Friday episode. At the last minute, the hiatus was extended for a week.
As Deadline reported, the investigation, conducted by DoOL distributor Sony Pictures Television and triggered by a complaint of gender disparity in pay and the recent layoffs on the show, evolved after misconduct allegations against Alarr were raised. About 30-40 people — primarily women — were interviewed in the probe. The accusations against Alarr involved inappropriate comments and touching, including groping and forceful kissing. Our report also included multiple testimonies about Alarr laughing off his improper remarks and mocking the lack of HR presence on the show.
In the days since Deadline published the story, a number of other current and former DoOL staffers
The new information includes an incident from a few months ago, in which an actress donned a spangly, somewhat tight-fitting ’70s-style jumpsuit and a David Bowie-style flock-of-seagulls haircut for several scenes.
As the actress was walking off the stage with her male co-star, Alarr “comes walking on the set and in a big booming voice goes, ‘Hey, you big d*ke’,” an insider who was on the set that day told Deadline, adding that the shocking remark caught everyone by surprise, evoking gasps among the actress, her co-star and the crew.
Touching upon every actress’ body image insecurities, “he meant it to be humiliating in front of an all-male crew,” the person said.
In another incident, which was corroborated by three sources with knowledge of the situation, Alarr jokingly told an actress on her last day on the show in front of several staffers that she “should just come up to my office and f*ck me.”
Deadline’s July 25 report also featured witness accounts of Alarr giving directing notes “in the most vulgar, crass ways.” That included telling a male actor filming a love scene “You’re f*cking horny, man, you just want to f*ck her” in front of his female acting partner and the crew, and instructing an actress in her early 40s filming a different intimate scene to “try and remember what it was like when you were young and vibrant.”
According to a show insider Deadline spoke with since, Alarr not only has made crude directing comments onstage, but he also does it over a loudspeaker for cast and crew to hear his remarks about the sexiness of a risqué scene or the actress involved in it.
“I just remember being like, oh, that’s uncomfortable,” the source said about hearing those comments.
Deadline’s original report also referenced allegations that Alarr’s directing instructions have incorporated the touching of actresses that is no longer considered appropriate.
A new source from the show, who has since come forward, elaborated on that accusation, saying that “During love scenes, [Alarr] has been inserting himself into them like, ‘Let me show you how to do it’, which, even in and of itself as this is awkward and uncomfortable.”
A DoOL actress revealed that Alarr always has been “flirtatious” with her. “We’re all adults but there is a line at work, and the flirtation happens often, and it would go with a hug and then a lingering hug and then his famous line; if he said something derogatory or sexual, it always came with a chuckle and ‘A good thing there’s no HR.’ I can’t tell you the amount of times I heard that,” she said. The last comment was relayed to Deadline by some half-dozen people during the interviews conducted for the first story and the follow-up.
“I’ve had moments on set where he has chosen to physically move me or tries to be my co-star in dry block,” the actress added, referring to onstage camera rehearsals. “And then he does his Albert giggle, and we just keep moving because that’s what you do on this show. Otherwise, who knows, you get fired if you say anything.”
A staffer who had been on the show for many years expressed their surprise that Alarr’s behavior did not get exposed during the first wave of the #MeToo movement.
Added another DoOL long-timer, “You get to a point where you’ve been watching it for decades, and you go, ‘Wait, this is still happening in this day and age?’ In fact, it’s getting worse on this particular show.”
Staffers also called out series distributor Sony Pictures Television for the lack of HR support on the Corday Prods. show, detailed in Deadline’s story last week, which has made Alarr the de-facto arbitrator of HR matters on set. A DoOL employee said they had gone without an HR meeting for about four years, with no mechanism to seek help when needed.
“I don’t want to point a finger at anybody but there’s no help for us, the crew and cast,” the person said. “Part of it too is, when nobody would do anything or say anything or if things were reported and it got brushed under the rug. Most of the time, it really feels like, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to lose my job if I say anything.’ There’s no meritocracy.”
Added another DoOL employee, “It’s an environment in which people are afraid to take time off work, even if it’s for something important — family or having babies or whatever — because they’re like, you lose your job. It’s a running joke, keep things a secret about your personal life. That’s just not an environment to work.”
Another refrain repeated by actors on the show is how they are being told by Alarr and his team that they are replaceable, which adds to the stress and anxiety as they try to provide for their families.
“People would be let go, being told, ‘We’re not going to use you anymore’, and then they would bring them back. It was just like we were Tinkertoys,” one performer said.
Budget Cuts, Transparency & Actor Camaraderie
Adding to the tension on-set are the recent budget reductions on DoOL that came with its renewal through Season 60 earlier this year that led to pay cuts for cast and crew. (Budget cuts are not isolated to DoOL, with multiple other daytime soaps including General Hospital and The Young & the Restless also implementing salary/minimum guarantees reductions for cast, according to sources.)
“I have had personal conversations with some crew members who are literally tearing up that now it feels like they have to pay to work there, that they are now taking money out of their savings account just to pay all their bills,” a source on the show said.
Multiple other DoOL employees told Deadline that they feel “rushed” having to tape scenes faster, with blocking now regularly done through cast’s lunch break.
“This crew is being beaten, and it’s really hard to watch that,” one person said. “I get keeping the show on the air but at the cost of people’s [well-being], it’s brutal.”
Staffers also criticized the lack of transparency on DoOL, which did not inform employees about the investigation into Alarr or its results, and has still not addressed the situation with them following Deadline’s story. Show producer Corday Productions did reach out to staff last week with the Week of July 31 filming schedule, which had Alarr slotted to direct Friday. DoOL employees told Deadline that they found out that their hiatus had been extended by a week from our story Friday night.
“Everyone is so upset,” one staffer said about the lack of communication and lack of action.
Added another: “It’s just so disheartening. That silence is so deafening. The silence from the show, the silence from Ken.”
As Deadline reported last week, Corday Prods. owner and DoOL executive producer Ken Corday has not been hands-on involved with the show in the last few years, passing that responsibility to Alarr, and he also opted to keep Alarr in his roles after receiving the report from the Sony TV-run probe following meetings with multiple staffers who had shared their issues with the director-producer before speaking with the Sony HR investigator. Alarr received a written warning and was asked to undergo training.
“I was always grateful to Ken, and I always had hopes that he would do the right thing, and what we’re seeing is that he’s not, and that’s very sad to me,” a longtime DoOL employee said. “It’s very sad that he’s chosen one person over the entirety of the show, and the integrity of the show.”
Reached for comment, Corday Prods. referred to the company’s statement issued to Deadline last week, in which it confirmed that Sony Pictures Television has been engaged to “conduct an impartial investigation into this matter.” “After a two-month investigation, the independent investigator produced a report with its findings,” the statement continued. “Based on those findings, Corday Productions has taken a series of actions designed to ensure a safe and respectful work environment.”
Alarr, whose wife also works on DoOL as a writer, did not respond to a request for comment. Sony TV declined comment.
For the cast members, who signed the petition calling for Alarr’s removal, it comes down to accountability.
“If any of this had come out about any actor or actress, even remotely close, even if it was just an allegation, not even something that was true, they’d be gone,” a performer said in reference to the investigation against Alarr. “The actors are held to a standard, and the fact that a producer isn’t, it’s just madness to me.”
Added another, “Where are the people helping out the ones who feel voiceless? What is also sad is that you feel like is that this guy gets to get away with it because not enough people are coming to our rescue.”
As for the cast’s ultimate goal, “all we’re trying to do is create a safe, balanced and fair work environment,” one of them said. “We want this beautiful show to continue for as long as we can. We want all these people to have jobs.”
This is not the first time actors on DoOL have had to take things into their own hands.
“It’s really a place in which the actors have had to take care of each other, check in on one another, ‘are you OK?’,” one performer said. “Even during intimate scenes, it’s the actors taking care of one another to make sure they’re comfortable. Because that that level of consideration doesn’t come from the top, which is unfortunate.”
One actor pointed to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, which does not pertain to soap actors who are employed under a different SAG-AFTRA contract “even though we’re dealing with and facing a lot of the same things that they’re striking about, if not more, in some cases, because it’s a big-time forgotten about area of the business,” the person said. “That being said, the actors and some crew are having to band together and call for change because it just doesn’t seem as if it’s happening.”
Content Source: deadline.com