To say 2013 is the “Year of the Soaps” in an understatement! January has seen the return of beloved dramas One Life To Live and All My Children online, as well as the renewal of network soaps Days of Our Lives, The Young & the Restless, The Bold & the Beautiful, and General Hospital.
It’s amazing to think that just last year soap operas seemed to be on their way out, but fans continued their fight to keep them and succeeded! I have to say that when I saw Agnes Nixon’s statement January 4 on the Stand w/Agnes Nixon Facebook page that both OLTL and AMC were returning online, I was skeptical. While there have been amazing strides to get these two iconic daytime dramas back into production, I remain cautiously optimistic.
On January 7, Prospect Park’s press release indeed confirmed the posting that they had finally reached agreements with SAG/AFTRA, as well as the Director’s Guild. By mid-January they had secured a deal with the Writer’s Guild, finally coming to an agreement with regards to residuals which was the hold out. Deadline.com reported the serials are set to premiere in April, with 30 minute episodes. New episodes will be available via Hulu, Hulu Plus, and iTunes.
Fans rejoiced, happy to learn their extended families would return in some form. Little do fans know the impact they’ve had on ensuring Prospect Park’s executives Jeff Kwatinez and Rich Frank could obtain the financial backing they needed.
After learning ABC was cancelling both long-running daytime serials OLTL and AMC, fans rose up, outraged and refused to back down! Over the past 2 years, while groups have been fractured to a certain extent, all worked toward one goal, to keep our soaps alive and bring back OLTL & AMC!
This time last year, General Hospital was literally on the brink of cancellation, much like it was when Executive Producer Gloria Monty took over in the late ’70s. It was up to fans to save it! They joined various positive campaigns that Save The Soap Genre had implemented in contrast to the negative approach.
One very successful campaign, Thank Our Sponsors, floored advertisers who didn’t realize it was soap fans that started the positive movement to let advertisers know we appreciated their support of our remaining network soaps. Another campaign that made a difference was the “Thank Our Scribes” Campaign designed to thank the writers of the remaining network soaps for their tireless dedication.
Knowing General Hospital was dying a slow death, fans pulled together for the “Save GH Campaign” to ensure ABC Disney President Anne Sweeney stuck to her words to keep the highest rated show in their daytime line up…she did! Due to fans relentless, positive campaigns, the show that replaced One Life To Live, The Revolution, was cancelled!
You might say well what does any of this have to do with Prospect Park’s online deals? Do you remember the line from Field Of Dreams– “Build it they will come”? That is exactly what we did with General Hospital.
When Executive Producer Frank Valentini and Head Writer Ron Carlivati took over the reins at GH, things were looking pretty grim. However, with ABC committed to Cartini’s massive reboot, their dedication to revamp the show, bring it back to its’ hey day, and see the return of our favorite veterans, GH’s ratings soared! Give us great writing, amazing storylines that highlight the shows’ 50 years, and characters we love, WE WILL COME! By the end of 2012, in less than a year, GH garnered 3 million in viewership! Figures don’t lie and when Kwatinez and Frank continued to shop for financial backers for the online revivals, due to the climb in the ratings over the summer and fall, they were able to show there is still a demand and audience out there!
Having said this, there are still a lot of kinks that seem to plague the race to get the online revivals into production. Fans are again in an uproar over the fight to keep actors Michael Easton, Roger Howarth. and Kristen Alderson, who were integrated from OLTL into GH last year.
It is my understanding that ABC Disney leased the characters to General Hospital, so unfortunately Prospect Park owns them. However, the actors themselves are under contract with GH. Apparently Prospect Park refuses to budge and needs the characters of John McBain, Todd and Star Manning to launch the OLTL revival as they are popular characters. They released this statement to counter fans’ outcry on Friday, February 1, 2013:
“Prospect Park understands that ‘General Hospital’ has featured Llanview
transplants Michael Easton (John) and Kristen Alderson (Starr) among
others while we arranged production of the new version of One Life to Live. These characters, who we own under our agreement, are obviously essential
to our production efforts, and a large reason we licensed the program. We
also understand that legions of General Hospital fans have grown to love
these actors and characters in a short time. So even though we are paying
ABC millions of dollars to license the shows, we have been, and continue to
be willing to equally share the characters with General Hospital and ABC. It’s
a win-win for the actors, the shows and fans, who love all of the shows and
storylines. We hope to work out these agreements with ABC and the actors.”
In my opinion, it will be easier to keep Michael Easton, than Roger Howarth and Kristen Alderson because he did play popular vampire Caleb Morley on the GH spin-off Port Charles. The storyline is going in that direction, but for how long? Will Caleb stick around since it appears Prospect Park is unwilling to release the character of John McBain to General Hospital? Will they be able to come to some type of an agreement so Michael Easton can do both shows? Hopefully they’ll figure out an arrangement to make everyone happy.
Michael’s birthday is February 15 and he was concerned fans would send the usual fanfare to the studio, so he posted on his Facebook page February 3:
“I heard a rumor of some lovely people who were going to stop by the
studio for a certain riff raff’s birthday,” he wrote. “Some others who wanted to
deliver a cake. Even more wonderful folks who wanted to send cards and
treats, and I want you to know I am incredibly humbled by these gestures but
unfortunately I will not be around to enjoy them. I’ve been informed, that due
to some ongoing legal this and that, I cannot be at GENERAL HOSPITAL after
February 8th and since I know many of you go to great trouble to do
something special, I just don’t want to see anybody’s efforts go to waste
(especially the lovely person who always sneaks in the fine Irish Whiskey). If
it’s not too bold, may I suggest a donation to The American Cancer Society
instead. Then some good will have come out of this… Didn’t mean to upset
anybody, was just trying to address the birthday stuff. Honestly not sure what
the future holds but I think it’s going to take some time and some very bright
people to resolve it. Thank you again for all your kindness and support…”
Ultimately my hope is that Prospect Park will work with GH Executive Frank Valentini to continue utilize the characters of both shows.
It is also my understanding that as of today, contracts have not actually been signed by the actors set to return to the revival productions. According to an article by Carolyn Hinsey, they are “pending” contracts status at this time. While the list of veterans from both shows grows, until those contracts are signed, production will be at a standstill.
Even with all the behind-the-scenes drama, fans should be proud of themselves, of being a soap fan because everything that has happened is as a result of our loyal dedication. No matter what is in store for our soaps, I know one thing for sure…soap audiences will NEVER give up and will remain!