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BBC reports, "Do US daytime soap operas have a future?"

Courtesy/Getty/ABC

Courtesy/Getty/ABC

Our dwindling American daytime soap opera scene has everyone talking including Britain’s main outlet, the BBC.

In a report and perspective from Peter Bowes in the L.A. bureau, he spoke with among others, Mal Young the producer behind the British soap hits, EastEnders and Coronation Street and Robert Thompson a professor in pop culture at Syracuse University.  Here are some excerpts!

Mal Young is currently in Los Angeles developing a soap opera for primetime US TV, and details that Americans are yearning for more dramas about real life. “One of the shows that I’m developing out here is to tap into that. A British-style soap opera, with real people, real issues, working class blue collar families and not the Dallas and Dynastys and the Desperate Housewives.”  Young believes US viewers would buy into a Coronation Street or EastEnders set in small town America.   “I think they’re ready to go on story-telling journeys in drama and see themselves. We haven’t seen the demise of the soaps. We’ve seen the demise of a certain type of them but as a machine, as a business, a cost model, they’re so effective as long as they’re done with a great heart and they’re relevant to the audience. I think they’re ready to go on story-telling journeys in drama and see themselves.”

Professor Thompson offered up his thoughts on the the fractured daytime landscape: “The future of the daytime-type soap opera is not in the daytime. That ship has sailed and I think they are going to be gone pretty soon. However, I think there is a possibility, especially in the new economics of television that the telenovela model, the five days a week, cheaper budget kind of thing could at some time be tried in this country and work.”

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Brian
Brian

Ok then, ABC listen up, just move “One Life To Live” to primetime and all will be forgiven.

Brian
Brian

My comment refers mostly about ITV’s Show “Coronation Street” Britian’s longest running soap program. In the UK, it airs in the evening, not daytime.

Rose Marie
Rose Marie

Haha Brian! I’m with you!

Jen Snelling
Jen Snelling

“‘A British-style soap opera, with real people, real issues, working class blue collar families and not the Dallas and Dynastys and the Desperate Housewives.’ Young believes US viewers would buy into a Coronation Street or EastEnders set in small town America. ”

That interesting, and right up Agnes Nixon’s alley! OLTL was developed with a similar concept in the beginning – the contrasts between social classes.

A soaps fan just pointed out the other day that elaborate sets of sprawling mansions aren’t necessary. (But really, I do love Llanfair, La Boulaie and the Buke mansion!)

Rose Marie
Rose Marie

I am in total agreement with Jen. Plus, this is America, NOT England!

Jason
Jason

they should just keep them there where they are. Getting rid of them are really stupid.

david
david

I don’t think Young gets it. A “soap opera” with real people is a reality show. That’s not what I want. She continues, “I think they’re ready to go on story-telling journeys in drama and see themselves.” No, I am not so narcissistic that I want to see myself. Enough with the reality show crap. I want to be entertained, and the perfect model for that is OLTL, not what Young is proposing. And Thompson teaches at the same university from which Frons graduated.

Rose Marie
Rose Marie

Notice the “telenove
la” stands to make the networks more money!”

shahla
shahla

yes, we have enough rality in lives these days,bad economy,high price gas,people losing jobs,war,how much people can take? they need some scape and soaps provide that for them. I am sick of talk shows and reality shows,we need our soap daily,so we can battle with realities in our lives.keep them ABC or you go to trash can.

RJ
RJ

Actually, I agree. I think people want drama, but they want it to be relevant to their lives, what is going on in society, and addressing social issues of the day. Characters need to be warm and emotional. Not overly melodramatic, but they have to drawn you in and make you feel for the characters. That would be interesting to do it at night 5 days a week. I think some people (like myself) would watch it in the evening – if it were decent. For example, I like the show Brothers and Sisters – it is done well. I could watch that in the evenings more often. Young is definitely on to something. Love to come work with you on this 🙂

Rose Marie
Rose Marie

Umm…RJ. Brothers and Sisters IS a soap!

gail calhoun
gail calhoun

you know its been on for 40 yrs somebody is watching i’m one of these somebodies..
OLTL is my day time family.

Jeffrey More
Jeffrey More

I guess i’ll be grieving after OLT goes dark in janurary hard to believe both it and AMC will be gone this makes me wonder which of the remaining soaps will be next to get canceled.. I read a few years back that fox was looking to get in on soap operas but haven’t heard anything since then wouldn’t that be great if fox picked up OLTL and AMC.

Julie
Julie

Isn’t Britain one of the countries that uses soaps as a lead in to primetime programming? I know my mom watches Y&R here at 4:00 pm (and sometimes 6pm on Soap Net) and the 6pm airing on Soapnet, comes on right before programming that I would watch such as reruns of Chicago Hope on AmericanLife, and stuff my mom likes on CBS. If instead of airing them during the day, what would happen if you aired them instead of the news at 5pm or 6pm? I mean, who cares to see the news at 5pm, 6pm and then again at 10pm (or whenever it comes on because I avoid local news like the plague if I can help it) especially when you have a variety of ways to get it?

Daytime soaps are a dead formula, but the genre isn’t dead. I’d say maneuver the times you air them and you’ll find the ratings increase, by how much I do not know, but it can’t hurt to try right?

All My Children

8 Years To The Day Of All My Children & One Life to Live Being Canceled; Still Considered By Many Worst Move For Daytime

It’s hard to believe that 8 years ago today on April 14th, 2011, the soap world, its fans, and the cast members, learned of the heartbreaking news that ABC, in one swift move, decimated its daytime line-up when they announced the cancellations of long running series, All My Children (which would end at its 41st year), and One Life to Live (which would ends its run in its 43rd year).

At the time, ABC announced it would move to more lifestyle/entertainment series to replace these dramas.  In its place came The Chew and The Revolution, neither show is still on the air today.  Executives at that time pointed to research saying that times are changing and that their decision was “guided by extensive research into what today’s daytime viewers want,” and blame, in part, “the changing viewing patterns of the audience” for the axing of AMC and OLTL

Then ABC Daytime President, Brian Frons had joked to Deadline about the big announcement that he: “Pre-entered the witness protection program prior to today’s events.”  He added that “The demise of the two venerable soaps was actually a year in the making.  A year ago, we started to look at our projections where the ratings for the soaps would go.  When those projections came in pretty discouraging, the network began to aggressively develop replacement shows, 15 of them.  Four of the 15 were picked up to pilot: The Chew and The Revolution and two others, a talk show and a dating show. Originally, the idea was to cancel only one daytime drama.  The way the ratings developed and the pilots turned out, the ratings developed negatively and pilots developed positively, so we decided to make a bigger shift.”  Of note is that when it went off the air, One Life to Live was in third place among its competitors in the ratings.

The press release that came with the cancellations stated: “To honor the core, passionate audience and their rich history both shows will conclude in a manner that respects their legacies and the longstanding hopes of many of their viewers.”

Following the cancellations daytime reeled. The mainstream was sure it meant the endings of the soaps, period.  However, four shows illustrated that is not true at all.  For Days of our Lives, General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless all remain, and still whether they are up or down in their numbers/ratings, they remain relevant and important to the enduring daytime viewing audience.

Sadly, as with any shows, the end of ABC’s AMC and OLTL meant loss of jobs for so many working in front of the camera and behind the scenes. One Life was the last soap opera in production in New York at the time.  AMC was already being shot in LA to cut costs to save it.

Still in 2019, if you venture on to social media, especially Twitter, you see fans constantly missing its stars and the towns of Llanview and Pine Valley, wanting this wrong rectified.  Although Prospect Park tried to revive the show with their online versions, eventually after legal battles that went on for a few years, ABC now retains the right to these properties,

The good news is that many favorites from AMC and OLTL have found success and been hired on other soap operas, bringing their followings with them, whether it be on-screen, or in the writing, producing, directing or crew departments.

So, do you think the loss of AMC and OLTL consolidated daytime and made the remaining shows stronger so they would not be touched or canceled?  Do you think ABC should try to mount a resurrected AMC and OLTL or an amalgamation of the two?  Do you remember where you were when you learned the two soaps were cancelled? Was this the worst misstep of all-time for daytime? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

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All My Children

George R. R. Martin’s “Leak” Of New Hulu Series WILD CARDS Featuring Eden Riegel, Thorsten Kaye. and Greg Rikkart

April Fool’s Day started off with a bang today when Eden Riegel (Ex-Bianca, AMC) posted a photo of herself with Thorsten Kaye (Ridge, B&B) and Greg Rikaart (Ex-Leo, DAYS)  in a very intriguing image.  See above pic!  As it turns out, it’s said to be from behind the scenes from some leaked footage of the upcoming Hulu series, Wild Cards.

The premise of Wild Cards is based on the sci-fi anthology series edited by George R. R, Martin, best known for writing the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels, on which HBO’s Game of Thrones is based.  Riegel’s husband, Andrew Miller is the showrunner attached to the upcoming series.

On Martin’s website he teases the set-up of the “leaked” video clip:  “This was not supposed to go public.. Everybody (Well, everybody that has been paying attention knows that we are developing two Wild Cards as a series for Hulu  Andrew Miller has taken the reins as showrunner, a writing staff has been hired, and they have been hard at work for months.  What was NOT supposed to be known is how far they’ve come.  Not only have some scripts been finished, but the first show has gone into production and has been shooting.  That was supposed to be a deep dark secret, however.   We wanted to surprise the world. It’s hard to keep secrets in Hollyweird, however.  And now it appears that some of the rough footage has been leaked by person or persons unknown”

Meanwhile, Riegel sent out a series of tweets: “Hooo boy…cat’s out of the bag! Fans, please don’t judge our show based on these leaked videos!! The effects are going to knock your socks off. And my costars, and , are doing the best work of their lives!”  That was followed by, T”hank you for the chance to work with you on your first foray into soaps! I am humbled and honored. We won’t let you down.” And then, “I’m probably not allowed to share this with all the NDAs I signed, but damnit I’m just so proud of the team!  think we are breaking new ground for soaps. So proud to work with you!”

Now below, check out the Wild Cards “leaked footage” and let us know if you think of the …. um … drama! Comment below.  And one more thing … Happy April Fool’s!

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All My Children

WATCH: All My Children Reunion On Strahan & Sara

On Monday’s episode of ABC’s Strahan & Sara, the show welcomed several stars of the beloved All My Children for a reunion, of sorts. Joining hosts Michael Strahan and Sara Haines were Susan Lucci (Erica), Walt Willey (Jack), Cady McClain (Dixie), Jacob Young (JR) and Jill Larson (Opal).

While it was wonderful to see the stars from Pine Valley again, it was also a painful reminder that this network, ABC, canceled the show, and had put in its place – The Chew, and now Strahan & Sara – since canning the series.   In fact, as you will see on the clips below, many of the crew who work on this talk show were once the crew for All My Children.

During the segment, Susan Lucci was tested to see if she remembered all of Erica Kane’s wedded names.  Later, Walt Willey and Susan re-created the final scene of the ABC version of All My Children between Erica and Jack, where Jack walks out on her.  However, this time, they have Jack changing his mind and coming back to Erica and sealing their relationship with a kiss – a moment of closure that never happened (since the show moved to online via Prospect Park).

In addition, Cady McClain and Jacob Young re-created the infamous Dixie “dying from eating poison pancakes” scene, as JR watches his mother die, only this time she lives.

It’s always great to see these veteran performers, but Strahan & Sara is trying to capture the soap viewers to put eyeballs on their show by bringing in talent from the show that sadly and wrongly went off the air.

Watch the clips below from the All My Children reunion below.  Then, let us know what you thought of it via the comment section below.

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