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Former SOAPnet General Manager Deborah Blackwell Has Passed Away!

Courtesy/ABC

Courtesy/ABC

Sad news to report today.  Deborah Blackwell, who was in charge of bringing SOAPnet to the forefront in its original version passed away on Friday after a seven-year battle with Pick’s disease, a rare neuro-degenerative disorder.  According to Deadline.com, “Blackwell passed away at the age of 63 in Virginia, surrounded by family.”

Blackwell was named the cable channel’s General Manager from its inception in 2001 through to 2007. During her tenure, SOAPnet grew its programming slate via a slew of acquisitions of primetime and daytime soaps as well as its distribution as the genre enjoyed popularity.  Deborah brought Soap Center, Soap Talk, I Wanna Be A Soap Star, Soapography, One Day With...” and other series and specials to the all-soap network along with ABC same day and date episodes of ABC’s All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital and later added Sony shows Days of our Lives and The Young and the Restless.

When Blackwell left her post in 2007, there was clearly a shift away from original programming to more programming acquisitions.  It was after Blackwell left that daytime soaps began to lose traction, leading to Disney’s recent decision to rebrand SOAPnet as Disney Jr.  

Before joining SOAPnet, Blackwell served as president of Idealab’s MyHome.com, an internet start-up. From 1993-99, Blackwell headed the TV movie and miniseries department of the William Morris Agency, packaging projects with such clients as Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover, Alec Baldwin and Drew Barrymore. Before becoming an agent, Blackwell was a development executive at Hearst Entertainment, rising from director to SVP.

So what do you think of the news of the passing of Deborah Blackwell?  Do you enjoy SOAPnet in its original incarnation before it became watered down and away from its original concept? Let us know!

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jimh(leave it to beaver)
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jimh(leave it to beaver)

Sad to hear about her passing…i miss soapnet…maybe had they kept it like its original incarnation and continued with original programing it might still be with us…i didnt even get Disney Jr., the channel is completely gone from my line up!!!

Mary SF
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Mary SF

She sound like a lovely woman who made a great contribution to her industry. Condolences to her family and friends.

Eve Jones
Guest
Eve Jones

I am sorry to hear that Billy Miller is leaving the Y & R. He made Billy Abbott believable and likable despite his many sins. I’ve never seen the original actor, Tom David, in this role. I’ll give him a chance. We’ll see.

Tom
Guest
Tom

That is so sad. My condolences to her family.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Sad news. I loved the original SoapNet.

gloria
Guest
gloria

The years she was in charge of SoapNet were the best, I loved all the original programming plus having the chance to see my daytime shows at my convenience, to watch again even if I’d seen them earlier in the day. It was a comfort to turn to SoapNet late at night & see my shows again. I am sorry she is gone at such a young age & sorry for her friends & family.

Iakovos
Guest
Iakovos

Thank you, Michael, for noting this woman’s contributions and successes. Clearly, Deborah Blackwell was a savvy programmer and researcher and an ally of daytime. SOAPNET was an immediate hit with me and now I know who was responsible for that entertainment and opoprtunities for disucssion and education about the genre.

Shelly
Guest
Shelly

This is sad news indeed. I repeat what others have said, the first few years of SoapNet were the best. Anyone remember “Disfunctional Family Night”, replaying some of the best nighttime soap episodes. A true champion of the soap genre, may she rest in peace.

jaybird369
Guest
jaybird369

Such awful news!!!!! My condolences to Deborah Blackwell’s family.

MBmomof3
Guest
MBmomof3

Sad news. I loved SOAPnet and it was truly at its best under her leadership. She saw the potential and brought it to the fans. She impacted viewers’ lives in a very positive way by bringing great entertainment into our homes. I hope her family and friends find peace and know that her business accomplishments were truly appreciated.

Gmbenet
Guest
Gmbenet

My condolences to Ms. Blackwell’s family, friends and all who worked with her at SOAPnet. While I never knew of her until the announcement of her untimely passing, I am certainly very familiar with her work. I thoroughly enjoyed many of the original shows named above. As soap fan I was pleasantly surprised by what I found when I discovered the existence of SOAPnet and I am confident my enjoyment of that network’s programming is what Ms. Blackwell envisioned as she created original shows for soap fans. If there is ever a Soap Opera Museum created, I do hope there… Read more »

Gary Anhalt
Guest
Gary Anhalt

ya,id love watching soapnet.if i missed it.it still be on…

All My Children

NBC Celebrates Carol Burnett’s 90th Birthday with Retrospective Special Featuring Susan Lucci and More Celebrity Guests

The beloved Carol Burnett will get the star-studded affair treatment for her 90th birthday when NBC airs Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love.

The two-hour special career retrospective will air Wednesday, April 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and will stream the next day on Peacock. The special is set to be filmed at Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles.

The evening will include musical performances from Bernadette Peters, Billy Porter, Jane Lynch, Katy Perry, Kristin Chenoweth and more.

Special guests include: Aileen Quinn, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Bob Mackie, Cher, Ellen DeGeneres, Julie Andrews, Kristen Wiig, Laura Dern, Lily Tomlin, Marisa Tomei, Sofia Vergara, Steve Carell, Tracee Ellis Ross, Vicki Lawrence, and many more.

Photo: ABC

One very special guest for soap fans will be that of Susan Lucci (ex-Erica Kane, All My Children).  As everyone knows, Carol Burnett was a huge fan of All My Children and Lucci, and eventually got a part written just for her when she appeared not once, but three times throughout the daytime drama’s run on ABC as Verla Grubbs.  The character turned out to the daughter of Langley Wallingford (the late Louis Edmonds).  Burnett appeared in Pine Valley in 1983, 1995, and 2005.

In a statement on the big soiree’, Burnett shared: “I’m so excited NBC decided to throw me a birthday party and invited all of my closest friends. I can’t wait to look back at so many wonderful moments throughout my career, I feel so lucky to share this night with everyone.”

“This special is going to be the best party ever,” said Mark Bracco, executive producer and president of Silent House Productions. “It will be an evening of music, comedy and dozens of big stars paying tribute to the one and only Carol Burnett.  We look forward to everyone at home celebrating right along with us.”

Viewers will see some of the funniest and most memorable moments of Burnett’s legendary career including moment from the acclaimed sketch comedy series The Carol Burnett Show.

So, looking forward to the special honoring Carol Burnett’s legendary career? Hope they bring up her role as Verla on AMC? For now, check out this scene featuring Carol, Ruth Warrick (Phoebe) and Louis Edmonds from All My Children, and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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All My Children

TONIGHT: AMC Alum Jonathan Bennett in Hallmark’s First LGBTQ+ Led Rom-Com ‘The Holiday Sitter’

In Hallmark’s first holiday movie offering featuring a same-sex love story at its epicenter, Jonathan Bennett (ex-JR Chandler, All My Children) not only stars, but is the project’s executive producer.  And, on Sunday night, when The Holiday Sitter premieres at 8 p.m. EST, it’s a big deal.

After much outcry for Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas programming block to be more inclusive, the channel is now poised to be on the right side of history.

The set-up of this ‘meet-cute’ rom-com goes something like this: Sam (Bennett) who is a workaholic has to ditch his Hawaiian holiday plans when he is asked to watch his sister’s children (his niece and nephew).  However, when Sam becomes overwhelmed, he gets a helping hand from his sister’s neighbor, Jason played by George Krissa. And within a blink of an eye, Sam and Jason find they are both unattached and attracted to each other, and Christmas becomes a lot brighter for the two of them.

As for Bennett, he previously appeared in Hallmark’s 2020 film, The Christmas House which was the channel’s first holiday movie to include a same-sex storyline. He later returned to that role in last year’s sequel The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls.

Bennett told USA Today on tonight’s milestone Hallmark holiday tale: “What’s so special about The Holiday Sitter is that it’s the first time we’ll see two men meet-cute and fall in love at Christmas. We tell a story that’s really important, so people that are watching it feel seen when they watch it. But just like Christmas is for everybody, The Holiday Sitter is for everybody… It just happens to have two men as the lead.”

Photo: HallmarkChannel

Hallmark Media’s Executive Vice-President, Lisa Hamilton told Deadline: “We felt that it was time for a story with a gay couple. We are really trying to make it so that everybody sees themselves when they tune in. We are trying to stay true to the Hallmark brand values, one of which is inclusiveness. It’s a true of Hallmark cards, which has a card for every kind of occasion. In the past, there was a focus on one particular kind of love story, and I think everybody thought, ‘wow, we’re not telling the whole story here.’”

The timing of The Holiday Sitter comes after Candace Cameron Bure received much backlash for her sentiments when she told the Wall Street Journal that the Great American Family network in which she stars in several of their holiday films, will “keep traditional marriage at the core” and never do stories/movies featuring same-sex couples.

Check out a preview for The Holiday Sitter below.

Now let us know, what do you think of the Hallmark Channel finally featuring a gay love story for one of its holiday films? Will you be checking out the landmark movie? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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All My Children

Rebecca Budig in Cast of CBS Holiday Movie ‘Fit For Christmas’

Daytime favorite Rebecca Budig (ex-Greenlee, AMC, and ex-Hayden, GH) will be seen in the upcoming CBS holiday movie, Fit For Christmas.

The movie also stars The Talk’s Amanda Kloots and she also serves as one of the executive producers and also co-wrote the project.  Budig joins Kloots along with When Calls the Heart favorite, Paul Greene in the holiday charmer.

In story, Fit For Christmas tells “the tale of Audrey, an enthusiastic Christmas-obsessed fitness instructor at a beloved, financially beleaguered community center in quaint Mistletoe, Mont., who begins a holiday romance with a charming, mysterious businessman, complicating his plans to turn the center into a more financially profitable resort property.”

Fit for Christmas is slated to premiere on Sunday, December 4th (8:30 ET/8 PT).

So, will you be watching Rebecca, Amanda and Paul in the holiday film? Do you somehow wish GH could bring back Budig as Hayden? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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