This week soap fans were riled up with the news that Prospect Park, which failed to deliver cancelled dramas One Life To Live and All My Children online, appears to have reached an agreement with the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Arts (SAG/AFTRA), and the Directors Guild of America (DGA).
Last year after ABC announced that beloved daytime serials One Live To Live and All My Children (AMC) were being removed from the network, Prospect Park’s Jeff Kwatinez & Rich Frank promised the iconic serials would return via its online network. The company had licensed both shows from ABC/Disney, but negotiations with SAG, AFTRA and DGA broke down. Fans were outraged when news spread after the whole thing fell apart, and the cast and crews of both shows had no idea what happened. According to The Hollywood Reporter, an agreement with the unions that govern actors and directors was finally forged this week, and both serials to begin production in the new year.
While this is great news for the soap genre as a whole, as well as fans, for me I’ll believe it when I see it. One of the most important elements in this new venture is securing writers by coming to an agreement with the Writer’s Guild (WGA), which at this point has not yet happened.
Another hurdle concerns the deal made by Prospect Park. Although there had been a deal, and the company has been in talks with numerous actors, many of the actors have by now moved on to other projects. And now that ABC appears to be clearly in support of a hybrid of General Hospital and One Life To Live (OLTL), question is, who is still available, willing to take the gamble?
I’ve learned that although the initial plan to migrate to the web collapsed, Kwatinez and Frank continued their quest and put together an investor package, which they shopped around over the summer. It is still unclear exactly who is potentially backing the project or if they’ll be able to deliver two daytime dramas based on the financial model presented.
Another issue is the fact that Frank Valentini, currently Executive Producer on General Hospital, had been named as the EP for the online version of OLTL. Will this still be the case should it return to production and what about General Hospital? Under Valentini and Head Writer Ron Carlivati General Hospital was once again brought back from the brink of extinction. How will production of OLTL and AMC online affect the popular serial as its 50th Anniversary approaches? Is ABC willing to keep their longest running daytime serial or will it also make the jump to the online arena? It all remains to be seen.
In my opinion it would be foolish for ABC to eliminate General Hospital from its daytime line up. Since the dynamic duo Cartini has taken over, TV by the Numbers listed GH is the No. 1 daytime serial for the fourth straight week in a row and has garnered higher ratings than Katie Couric’s talk show, which has the coveted 3:00 p.m. time slot. Katie has enjoyed her ratings in large part due to GH’s lead-in, and it would be in Katie’s best interest to ensure it stays. ABC is also #1 in daytime programming for the 13th week in a row, so why would they want to change their line up now?
Ultimately I think soap fans should take the news of Prospect Park’s possible venture with a grain of salt. I am cautiously optimistic, but would encourage fans to continue supporting the remaining four network daytime serials- General Hospital (ABC), Days of Our Lives (NBC), Young and The Restless (CBS) and The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS). Focus on how fun it is to watch our soaps again and just enjoy what we have now versus what may or may not come.
Continue to support the entire genre as a whole by making sure your viewership counts! Please DVR each episode or watch online at ABC, CBS or NBC. Also be sure to check in on GetGlue when watching your favorite shows as they track viewership added to the Nielsen Ratings.
Through all the ups and downs this past year, one thing remains true- soap fans really are the most loyal audience and the fact OLTL/AMC could be resurrected is sole due to fan passion for the soaps!