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Michael Fairman on state of soaps, cancellations, & what fans can do!

Courtesy/Michael Doven Photography

Courtesy/Michael Doven Photography

On-Air On-Soaps Michael Fairman was asked by SoapTown USA for an interview with their online platform to get his impressions and thoughts on the state of the soap genre, the recent cancellations of OLTL and AMC, what fans can do and how fans are dealing with the loss. SoapTown also takes a look back to when Fairman started his career in soaps through the the tail end of it’s heyday, to it’s dwindling days of current times.

Here are just a few excerpts below, but make sure to read the entire interview at SoapTown USA for the context of these remarks below and more.

Fairman on what fans can do over losing AMC & OLTL other than boycotts or petitions: “When people ask me, ‘What can we do?’ The decision has been made. I want people to fight (this decision) but I want them to fight smart. The way to be smart is to NOT turn off One Life to Live, but tune in to the last nine months, because the show is going to be great. One way, to illustrate, to counter ABC’s decision-making is to tune in and make the ratings go way up! Show them, ‘We’re at a 3.5, look what you did!'”  We can pick up and celebrate what we have left, but right now, I think we’re all feeling a bit deflated. But you should still watch your shows. They’re still vital. What people really to want to see is good story. How are the writers going to structure the canvas? Who are we supposed to root for, I don’t know at times. You need people to root for. Fans want to see the characters they love. And then have things shaken up. We’re running out of time. I think everybody should feel that the clock is ticking.”

Courtesy/ABC

Fairman on of why televnovelas are scoring big ratings and American soaps are not : “They really capture the imagination right now of the Latin community. They’re over the top, they’re dramatic, and they feature beautiful people. All the stuff that soaps should be and it’s working in that market. And the telenovelas have a beginning, middle and end, unlike U.S. soaps which go on to infinity, unless you’re canceled! We’re stuck here in the States. It’s a fast food mentality. If I can see all my bitches, hunks and babes on these reality shows that cost a smidge to produce, why would the networks want to put on Days of our Lives when these shows are cheap and get more audience? That is what is going on through the networks minds. Many out there will say the serial format is your grandmother’s and it’s old, but you have to remember that soaps are passed down from generation to generation, which is why this is so horrible. It’s crushing. I asked people on my Twitter page, ‘What would you say to a programmer if you wanted to sell One Life to Live to them?’ The responses were amazing and well-thought out. One Life to Live was also under budget and lately has had some decent ratings, which makes this decision even more of a slap in the face to the intelligent One Life viewers.”

Fairman on how replacements series: talk-shows, game shows, vs soaps, and the network’s perceptions: “You have to understand, soaps are not the cash cow they once were, the advertisers are not clamoring to sign up, the ratings are down. When The Talk scores ratings equal to or better than As the World Turns, that’s a sign to networks execs that they’re doing something right and justifies their decisions, I think. As for game shows, there’s no emotional investment for viewers, again it’s an hour of fun or distraction but there is no heart. But we have to remember the networks are running that, a network which does need to be filled with all types of programming options for the farthest reach to the public. The bottom line is that soaps have validity, they comfort people, they’re part of Americana, and they bring social issues to life wonderfully when done correctly. They have attempted things that should be commended. Soaps can be used to help families, mothers, children that might be around during the day, or whenever they can tune-in. But why couldn’t soaps get back the audience they lost a decade or more ago? Part of the thing that failed was soaps needed to get back the audience that they lost and get new people in, and that’s one of the struggles they’ve had for several years. A lot has to do with the times we live in, working families, tons of options on channels, it has become a very difficult climb to get back up the mountain for soaps.”

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kay killgore
kay killgore

Michael, you are so right on. It does not stop th sadness in our hearts that something else has come to an end!

Doe
Doe

Michael. Loved all your insights on the what, why , and how the soaps are being tossed aside for lesser programing. Obviously, besides us die-hard fans, no one else has an investment in years of dedicated and loyal soap watching. You know the soap industry better than anyone. You have covered it and shared your views for so long and I hope you will still have stories to tell and comfort us with your knowledge. Thanks for sharing with us, Michael. You are to be commended!

Days
Days

I have watched soaps sence I was 16 and now Im 63, I set with old people that are at home or in rest homes,we all love soaps,we laugh and cry and get mad as hell,but we love all our soaps,we want them to stay on free TV. Joanne

Kathy
Kathy

As a long-time fan (36 years) of “As the World Turns”, and a recent convert to ABC’s “One life to Live”, my heart goes out to all of you ABC soap fans. Those of us who lost our beloved ATWT – and before that Guiding Light – are still angry about the decision of CBS and Proctor and Gamble (both equally responsible for the demise of GL and ATWT) to cancel our 54-year old soap and replace it with an innane, irrelevant talk show for mommies – “creatively”named “The Talk” – hosted by Julie Chen (wife of Les Moonves, Head of CBS who just was rewarded millions in bonuses and compensation on top of his already obscene salary – probably enough to have paid for another year of ATWT) and her dimwitted panel of Hollywood sidekicks. (God help us if this crowd qualifies as capable of passing along parenting advise!) ABC soap fans: cheap-to-produce replacements like “The Talk” which now fills “As the World Turns” old time slot, as well as a remake of “Let’s Make a Deal” which replaced “Guiding Light”, are why AMC and OLTL are slated for cancellation. I honestly think that ABC execs took a look at the CBS model and saw that they also could unload a genre they just didn’t want to invest in and replace it on the cheap. On a personal note, I can only hope that if any of the hosts from “The Talk” on CBS (the pathetic blabfest replacement to Emmy-awarding winning “As the World Turns”) are presenters this year at the 2011 Daytime Emmy Awards to be shown on CBS, they will be greeted by stone-cold silence and absolutely NO applause. I would love to see pickets, protesting, and widespread support of the soaps at the 2011 Daytime Emmy Awards this year – just to let ABC, CBS, NBC, and advertisers know that soap fans may not be their “ideal” demographic, but we are loyal viewers who are committed to preserving our soaps and are more than and willing to switch channels, turn off the TV, or take our buying power elsewhere. (Ironically, as a “Boomer” my peers and I have money to SPEND and time to spend it – unlike the demographic these ill-informed idiots choose to target!) Protests may not have worked with CBS and Proctor and Gamble, but the anger and outrage I sense that is out there right now towards ABC is very strong and may actually make a difference in the end! (And I’ll be rooting for “As the World Turns” to win the 2011 Daytime Emmy because it deserves to, and just to stick it to CBS and Proctor and Gamble for axing this icon of daytime drama in the first place!)

CINDY
CINDY

I agree with most of what you said in your statement, even though The Talk has some good guests. Anyway, I started watching y&R, B&B,GH, Edge of Nt & OLTL,AMC when I was 10 yrs old with my Mom and sister. I began watching ATWT when I go married 20 yrs ago because my husband watched it.Then I got into GL. How upsetting it is to see our daytime stories disappear so quickly!!! 38 yrs I’m watching soaps, and it’s shocking to see what the networks are doing…Like hey have nothing else to do but cancel our daytime lives. I feel it’s my way of getting away into my other life and it relaxes me . i am part of their lives. I still tape them and watch 3 now..I loved it when I could take a day off school to go to the mall and meet the stars.. or wherever they were signing autographs. They were the good old days – 1977-80. It will be so VERY DEPRESSING if they start replacing ALL the rest of them with DUMB REALITY shows- the world is so sick of this!!! I guess theres nothing else to do but make up ridiculous shows !!! Well i am thrilled to see Genie Francis join Y & R soon– She’s great.. Iis just too bad GH wouldn’t pay her to remain on GH.-(so I heard)–one of my favorite soaps!!!

Ceridwyn2
Ceridwyn2

Read the full article. Lovely interview, Michael. So appreciate the work you’ve been doing over a lifetime. I started to respond in here, but then it just kept expanding as I wrote. So, I decided to take it over to my blog, and post the link here.

“The continuing saga of daytime soap opera cancellations” – http://www.celtic-dragon.ca/blog/?p=474

The lyrics of “One Life to Live” tell the tale:

Here’s what you do
When you don’t find the rainbow’s end
This time

Here’s where you going to do
When it looks like the rain end
Don’t cry

There’s always tomorrow
Where you can have a second chance
And after tomorrow
All that you have to remember.

Here’s what you do
When you think nobody cares
For you

Look in my eyes
And see there’s an answer there
It’s true

We’ll find tomorrow
A place for us
I know because

Time only knows
How long forever’s gonna last

Let’s live today
And find someone to share it with
Cause we only have one life to live.

Don’t cry
I’ll give you tomorrow
Let me be the one to share it with

And each day that follows
Cause you only have one live to live!

Outspoken
Outspoken

C! Nice Touch!

Todd
Todd

Of course I will bw watching oltl every day until the end. I do now. I watch it o.line as I am not home in the afternoon. I cant in my heart watch anythi.g else anymore on abc. Not castle, not modern family, not dwts.i dont know if it helps or hurts, but it makes me feel better

Jackie Garlow
Jackie Garlow

I can’t believe AMC is being cancelled! I have been watching it for years! Never disappointed. Do they really think another boring reality show or equally boring cooking show will be able to replace the shows they are taking off?? Reality and cooking shows have been way overdone! They are just a cheap way to fill air space! Save the soaps!!!

Donna Robinson
Donna Robinson

I work hard through the busy days and record my soaps at night while I cook for my business. I watch all 3 soaps.They might think of the bottom line but I hope the sponsors think of their bottom line.I WILL NOT PURCHASE ONE ITEM THAT SPONSORS ABC NOR WILL MY FRIENDS BOTH MALE AND FEMALE IN OUR WESTBROOK/PORTLAND MAINE AREA.Being a business owner I like to keeps my customers happy and it’s quite clear ABC does not. When OLTL and AMC are off we are OFF!!!!! I

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.

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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,

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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”

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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.

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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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GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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