By Michele Dargan

Good News for All My Children and One Life To Live fans!

It appears that “ALL My Children” and “One Life To Live” will continue on after the shows air their final television episodes.

Read the official press release from ABC/Disney below:

ABC LICENSES ITS ICONIC SOAPS “ALL MY CHILDREN” AND “ONE LIFE TO LIVE
TO PROSPECT PARK

EXCLUSIVE MULTI-YEAR, MULTI-PLATFORM DEAL ALLOW THE SOAPS’ STORIES TO CONTINUE BEYOND THEIR FINAL AIRDATES ON ABC

BURBANK, CA – July 7, 2011 – ABC has licensed its iconic soaps, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” to Prospect Park, it was announced today by Brian Frons, President, Daytime Disney ABC Television Group & Janice Marinelli, President, Disney/ABC Domestic Television and Rich Frank & Jeff Kwatinetz of Prospect Park. The exclusive multi-year, multi-platform deal enables the soaps’ stories to continue beyond their finale dates on ABC. ABC will broadcast its final episode of “All My Children” on Friday, September 23rd and will air the final episode of “One Life to Live” in January, 2012.

The licensing agreement, brokered by Disney/ABC Domestic Television Group, enables Prospect Park to continue production of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” beyond their life on ABC. Prospect Park will produce and deliver the two long-running programs to consumers via online formats and additional emerging platforms including internet enabled television sets. Under the terms of the arrangement, the programs will continue to be delivered with the same quality and in the same format and length. Additional details of the new productions and tune-in will be forthcoming from Prospect Park.

“We are privileged to continue the legacy of two of the greatest programs to air on daytime television, and are committed to delivering the storylines, characters and quality that audiences have come to love for over 40 years. ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ are television icons, and we are looking forward to providing anytime, anywhere viewing to their loyal community of millions,” said Frank and Kwatinetz. “Technology changes the way the public can and will view television shows. Now that there are so many devices available in addition to television sets, viewers are taking advantage of watching shows where ever they are and on any number of devices. The driving force in making the switch and attracting new audiences is to have outstanding programs that people want to watch. We believe that by continuing to produce the shows in their current hour format and with the same quality, viewers will follow the show to our new, online network.”

“’All My Children’ and “One Life to Live’ are iconic pieces of television history that captivated millions of fans since their beginning over 40 years ago,” said Frons. “Each of the shows have made an indelible mark on our culture’s history and informed our consciousness in their own way. We are so glad Prospect Park has assumed the mantel for these shows and that they will continue for the fans.

Marinelli continued, “From the time the shift in the daytime strategy was announced, our hope was to find a new home for these treasured shows. We are thrilled to license them to Prospect Park so the stories of life in Pine Valley and Llanview can continue to be told for the passionate and loyal fans that enjoy watching each day.”

“I’m just so happy that ABC found a home where the legacies of ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life To Live’ can continue. I’m excited for their future with Prospect Park,” added Agnes Nixon, creator of both ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’. “It takes a lot of living to make a soap opera a serial, and the wonderful teams on both shows have done just that. Together, we are a big family that keeps going, and I’m looking forward to working alongside these wonderful people as we ensure that the shows will continue with all the love and excitement we’ve always had. I also am so happy for our loyal fans, whom we love so much, and who have been so supportive over the last 40 plus years.”

Prospect Park is a media and production company founded in 2009 by entertainment industry veterans Jeffrey Kwatinetz and former Disney Studios head Rich Frank. Along with successful film and music divisions, the company’s television group has numerous shows in development and breakout network hits airing including Royal Pains and Wilfred.

In April, ABC announced that it was expanding the focus of its daytime lineup to include more programming that is informative and authentic and centers on transformation, food and lifestyle. “The Chew,” an innovative and groundbreaking daily talk show that celebrates and explores life through food, will premiere on September 26th. “The Revolution,” a daily show about health and lifestyle transformations will replace “One Life to Live” in January 2012.

“All My Children” has revolved around the lives of the residents of fictional Pine Valley, a town which closely resembles the Philadelphia Main Line. “All My Children” took home the 1998 Emmy-award for Outstanding Drama Series, the third time the show received this top honor, having also garnered the award in 1994 and 1992. “All My Children” has received more than 30 Emmy Awards and consistently distinguishes itself in the field of daytime drama. The show has historically been committed to and is often the first to tackle social issues, focusing on such topics as AIDS, abortion, cochlear implants, teenage alcoholism, racial bias, acquaintance rape, spousal abuse, homosexuality, Reyes syndrome, Vietnam MIAs, drug abuse, the risks of motherhood over 40, safe sex, pet therapy and organ donations, among others. The show made television history airing daytime television’s first same-sex kiss between two lesbian characters as well as daytime television’s first same sex wedding between two women. The show was the first to chronicle the coming out story of a transgender woman and to cast a real life Iraq war vet who’s story reflected his real life experiences and injuries incurred in combat.

“All My Children” premiered on the ABC Television Network on January 5, 1970, as a half-hour show; seven years later it expanded to an hour. Julie Hanan Carruthers is executive producer.

Also created by Agnes Nixon, the Emmy Award-Winning “One Live to Live” is set in the fictional town of Llanview, which is modeled on a Philadelphia suburb. “One Life to Live” debuted on The ABC Television Network July 15, 1968 as a half hour show. Ten years later, it grew to a full hour in 1978.

“One Life to Live” has been lauded for its groundbreaking exploration of social issues, diverse canvas, award-winning performances and innovative storylines. Along with the history-making week of live shows in May 2002, “One Life to Live” is responsible for many “firsts” in Daytime television, including stories of interracial romance, illiteracy, medical misdiagnosis, racial prejudice, gang violence and teen pregnancy. The show received mass critical acclaim for its 1992 homophobia storyline, which captured national headlines when it introduced the character of a gay teen (played by then unknown Ryan Phillippe) and culminated with the emotional display of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. “One Life to Live” was honored by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) with the Outstanding Daytime Drama Award in 1993, and again in 2005 and 2010.

In 2002, the show won its first-ever Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Drama Series category, and was nominated again in 2007 and 2008. Created by Agnes Nixon, “One Life to Live” debuted on July 15, 1968 and marked its 10,000th episode on August 17, 2007. Frank Valentini executive produces.

Ken Ziffren of Ziffren Brittenham advised Prospect Park on the deal and the company is represented by Skip Paul at Centerview Partners LLC.

By Silas Kain

A CALL TO RALLY THE SOAP TROOPS IN A NEW MISSION…

Hi there.

It’s been along, strange week hasn’t it? So, let’s get down to business and have a serious, adult discussion.

I’ve got a few ideas. Let me clarify, WE have a lot of ideas. Some are good. Others are subject to debate.

But before we take this journey, let’s get a few things straight.

Since 1999, a group of soap opera fans have tried to show to the industry and fan base that the business model used for broadcasting soap operas just did not fit this new age of information. We warned in 1999 that without a serious look at changing the paradigm, soap operas could be dead in a decade.

Well, I hate to say we told you so, but… now is not the time for such silliness.

In the last 7 days there has been an explosion of fan efforts being organized. And I have to say, just as many expected, the ABC fan base doesn’t let us down when it comes to going off in a thousand different directions. And that’s what we need to change – NOW!

In the last 7 days a group of people behind the scenes have been working 12 – 18 hours a day to sort all this out. We’ve reached a few conclusions which seem to work. Unfortunately the time we’ve spent putting out fires caused by several fan groups has prevented us from putting something together for you to see more quickly. So, let’s answer a few questions so you get where we are coming from…

Why haven’t the actors come forward from OLTL and AMC?

If you have to even ask that question, you don’t get it. These actors have built their careers in a genre which has never, I repeat – NEVER, received the respect and acclaim it deserved. These most professional of their profession have been marginalized, trivialized and held back from illustrious acting careers because studios AND the public think soap actors are hacks. Now, WE don’t think that way. But the soap fan base has shrunken so much our impact on media buyers and corporations is at an all time low. The actors who are currently employed are in a tenuous position. If they speak publicly about what they are really feeling they risk future acting opportunities. And, let’s face it, with 4 soaps left – the character pool is drying up fast! Many of these seasoned actors are at the stage of their lives where they just don’t please the studio executives. They’re not “youthful” enough. They don’t have the well defined abs. Like it or not the marketability of an actor is more dependent on the size of erection a studio executive gets in response to an actor’s looks. I know it sounds cold. But that’s pretty much where it’s at. Ironically, media buyers and corporate executives really don’t understand the American viewing audience at all. But all of this notwithstanding, we’ve reached out to these actors. And we have made it very clear we have their backs. We will do everything we can to reinvigorate a genre in need of revitalization!

Do you have any idea what’s being said backstage?

Yes and no. I’ve been in touch with a few. In some cases I have been in touch with people who are willing to work with us on behalf of the actors. There has been one resounding message we’ve been receiving behind the scenes all week – there MUST be one central organized effort which includes ALL fans of daytime from every show and every network. That’s right. This is the consensus we’ve found. And when the time is right as the dust settles, you will see actors come forward to endorse whatever business model ends up getting shopped to the right people.

What about what Oprah said and what about OWN?

Oprah has made her position clear. She’s in business. She’s a one woman industry. And though she comes from meager means, her rise to the top of her ladder has isolated her from much of that which she experienced in her younger years. The way I see it my Granny said it best – “out of sight, out of mind”. Oprah won’t be on air five days a week in a syndicated talk show. And while she may have her OWN network, the fact of the matter is Oprah as a talk show is more marketable than Oprah the network. She’s been part of the American landscape for 25 years and her rise in the beginning had EVERYTHING to do with soap. She somehow has lost sight of it. Unfortunately, one of ABC Daytime’s staunchest allies over the years – Rosie O’Donnell – is now part of the Oprah Empire. And, as a result, the silence is deafening. As I’ve said so many times – connect the dots. Oprah has had an amazing impact on the American experience. Thanks to her creativity and vision she has influenced millions of Americans and enhanced their lives through entertainment and subtle education. We owe much to her, That being said, she’s made her position clear so we must move on.

How can we get ABC to change their position?

We can’t. Deal with it. ABC management has to answer to Disney and Disney stockholders. Entertainment in every form is an expensive proposition. In the evolution of broadcasting, networks weren’t ready for the influx of cable networks and Internet influence. While they were operating in outmoded business policies the rest of the industry was coming out with cheap, fast programming which captured the audience. Why is that? The answer is clear. For two generations, American children have been robbed of arts being an integral part of education. They’ve been deprived of studying the philosophers, the Renaissance artists, Shakespeare, the Brownings and so much more. What we’ve ended up with is an audience that knows not the difference between the volatile Kate in Taming of the Shrew and Snooki of Jersey Shore. It’s pathetic what we’ve settled for in entertainment. The amazing programming we experienced in the 50’s and 60’s lives on with remote cable networks that see the intrinsic value of quality programming. The bottom line is our 40 year love affair with ABC Daytime is coming to an end. So, let’s find a way to make this work!

Do fan protests against ABC work?

Sure they do! And under the circumstances it’s more than understandable when emotions are running high that the first thing fans want to do is FIGHT BACK! We get that! But take off your broken heart hat for a moment and put on your business hat. What does slamming ABC in a relentless, child-like manner accomplish? Well, my friends, one word = NOTHING! We have to face facts. If there is the remotest hope of getting homes for All My Children and One Life to Live we have a situation. ABC has the power to say no. And while there is plenty of finger pointing and blame to go around, now is NOT the time to do it. Rather than go on the attack, we need to form a cohesive, sane organization which addresses the central dilemma facing daytime – HOW do we change the business model that has been used all this time? And in cobbling out the solution, we have to look at Brian Frons and Anne Sweeny not as enemies but facilitators. We don’t have to like them or their policies. And, as I’ve said, IF you want to find homes for AMC & OLTL sooner or later you have to sleep with the enemy to accomplish the task. Get it?

What about getting advertisers to boycott ABC Daytime?

Isn’t that an awesome idea? Pardon me while I spit up. First of all, I applaud Hoover for their decision. It’s about time an advertiser took a stand. Don’t kid yourselves because, Houston, we have a problem. If fans get enough advertisers to pull from ABC Daytime, you kill the stories. That’s right. You kill them. Remember, ABC has a responsibility to the stockholders. If the ABC soaps lose a significant number of advertisers, you can bet they will shut down OLTL earlier than planned. And, GH fans, you can kiss Port Charles goodbye. That’s reality, folks. If the shows aren’t producing some revenue during this process, ABC Daytime has no choice but to pull the plug on soap life support. And, once again, if you put on your logic hats, you will see I’m right. Be sensible. Think before you act. I’m the guiltiest of all when it comes to flapping my jaws and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. In the last 7 days I have had to weigh my words very carefully. And, at times, it’s been killing me because my first reaction is to open up my can of whoop ass and come out fighting.

How did this happen?

How can we lose a show that’s been on the air for 40 years and made ABC so much money? I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but look in the mirror. The viewers have a role in this entire thing and don’t want to take any responsibility whatsoever. Reality television has taken up so much of the market because there’s demand for it. When the basic cable channels started hawking their “unscripted” programming, viewers went nuts. Whether it’s Jon & Kate plus 500 or Sarah Palin’s Moose Jaw Ho Down, viewers have settled for cheap train wreck shows because they are “real”. Guess what? The joke is on us. While we’ve been enjoying all these train wrecks because the cast of characters were “real” people, what we didn’t know is the filming, editing and prompting was most definitely scripted. This has been a network’s sleazy maneuver to outsmart the unions. There was a time when soap operas made serious money. And the bulk of those profits were diverted into prime time programming. That’s right. Our “stories” have been prime time television’s corporate welfare. Do the research. Remember Kojak? If it wasn’t for Guiding Light and As the World Turns, Kojak wouldn’t have been sucking a tootsie pop. It would not have been on air at all. As viewing habits changed and more women went to work, soap operas lost their edge. And when it was the soaps that needed the “corporate welfare” the network executives were aghast.

So, are you saying soap opera is dead?

Ha! The $64,000 question! Look at the scripted shows on prime time today. Guess what? You are watching a soap opera and don’t even know it! In the mid 1970’s the networks were trying to find a way to make prime time programming more attractive to viewers. And while some of the shows were actually marketed as prime time soap operas, there is but one simple truth – 95% of the scripted shows adopted the soap opera model of continuing story lines which carried across the broadcast season. Whether it was Falcon Crest or St. Elsewhere you, the American viewer, have been watching scripted programming based upon the soap opera model. How many times have I asked you to “connect the dots”?

As someone who has been a television viewer since I was in cloth diapers, I’ve watched the evolution from a rare perspective. That’s because I was Mom and Dad’s personal telecaptioner. When President Kennedy spoke of the Cuban missile crisis, my hands were flapping. When he was shot, it was me who told them what Chet and David were discussing. When Rachel got pregnant with Steve Frame’s baby on Another World, it was me who told Mom about it. When Tom and Alice Horton learned their son Tommy was alive, I got to deliver the news!

And all through the years I discovered that soap operas weren’t only entertaining – they educated me on many levels. My love of music began because of Julie’s playing Sergio Mendez’ “The Look of Love”. My love of sculpture developed because I was fascinated by Rachel Cory’s ability to mold a pile of dirt and water into something incredibly beautiful. My views on political matters crystallized during the drama of Tara and Phil on All My Children when he was drafted. So, I’ve watched television’s evolution in both daytime and prime time. To answer your question, soap opera never really was dead. It’s just changed and now it’s up to the consumer to facilitate a new model for the daytime end of things.

What about the soap press? Where are THEY in this mess?

Oh come on now. Haven’t you figured it out? These people are in a state on confusion close to that of the actors and crews. Whether you like one member of the press or the other, there’s one thing for certain. The job that has been their dream all their lives is in peril. Imagine the uncertainty. For years they have had to live by the whims of studio heads and media relations “experts”. If a member of the soap press said one word which pissed somebody off, they got the door shut in their face. There it is. Quite simple, isn’t it? And as these members of the soap press sit Shiva in wait of soap’s demise, it’s up to the fans to prove to them that we even have their backs in this cause. The soap magazines have a place in our culture. The knowledge and wisdom the members of the soap press has developed over the years is such a valuable tool in education not only fans but up and coming actors, writers and directors. You see, even members of soap media get little or no respect from their own peers. They deserve better for what they do and they will be gratified if we include them as an overall part of reviving daytime.

OK, enough with the bullshit. What are you thinking?

Thanks, I needed that. Here it is. We have an infrastructure in place to develop one central Internet repository for all fan groups to join together. What we want to do is go live sometime next week. I won’t reveal the domain name just yet. Please bear with me. And, for the love of God, stop going out and buying domain names for your respective cause. The only one getting rich in this mess is GoDaddy. And now I will get on to what we have envisioned for this repository:

PURPOSE: The purpose of this central Internet location is to bring as many of the soap fan groups together as possible in a coordinated effort. This effort isn’t limited to All My Children and One Life to Live. If a production company chooses to adopt the business model being discussed, this could be the basis for the remaining shows going forward. That’s right. The networks could try adapting their current shows to the model we’re putting together.

The main focus of this operation is to provide access to the millions of soap fans across the country. They could come here for information on the industry. We want to provide information about the thousands of web sites out there dedicated to the genre. We want them to be able to learn about the talented folks who host podcasts, using their own time and money to talk about the genre they love. We invite all of you creative people to join in the movement because you are an important element as we move forward.

WHO IS IN CHARGE? Well, initially, I was thinking an election process. Many have come forward and told me this is not a good idea because it would become a popularity contest and we all know how fans get. So, therein lies my dilemma. We’ve got some brilliant people who have come forward to be a part of the “Leadership Council”. With that being said, I need your input. What do you think I should do? If you want me to appoint the five people to this “board of directors” I’m more than willing to do it. But, for the record, I have said many times I cannot serve on the council itself. My role will be as an advisor and to keep the board informed of the progress we are making behind the scenes. You all have to understand here that this is a very delicate time. We aren’t going to repeat our past mistakes and tip our hand from the outset. We’re doing this in a concentrated, planned and reasonable way.

What is the role of the Leadership Council? The five people on the board will be in charge of coordinating fan groups and fan efforts. They will research, debate and establish policies and guidelines for all folks who wish to be a part of this call. We will look to these leaders for guidance and to act on our behalf when the time comes. As I indicated, these people will be privy to information which is not made available to the general public. These directors have to be willing to keep confidential matters limited to their group. As the entire process unfolds, there will be an opportunity to get into the logistics of what’s happening.

Are there other roles available outside the Leadership Council? Well as Sarah Palin says, “You betcha!” While the Leadership Council retains ultimate authority there will be committees established as follows:

Corporate Advertisers: This committee will be responsible for coordinating and guiding fan efforts toward potential advertisers and others who have impact on buying. As the movement begins to come together, we will be looking to corporate sponsors to examine what our mission is and how it will help their own bottom line. Remember, this is a coordinated effort on many levels.

Local Affiliate Campaigns: This committee will be working closely with members at the local level in organizing rallies and letter writing campaigns to local affiliates about the demand for quality, scripted television. And we’re not just limiting this committee to the local network affiliates. We want to go after the cable providers, the local news media and radio.

Letter Writing Campaign: As this plan of action gets into full swing, the Letter Writing Committee will be developing campaigns which focus on specific entities which they may determine as appropriate.

Community Theater & Educational Outreach: This committee will be charged with the task of facilitating a dialog with community theater groups and local educational institutions who have robust dramatic arts programs. As the movement builds, we want to bring Daytime actors, writers and directors into public view to share their own experiences. Their collective experience serves to assist community theaters and enhance dramatic arts teachers in delivering a quality education to our next generaiuon of thespians, writers and artists.

Media Relations: This committee will be in complete control of media and public relations. One member of this committee will be the official spokesperson of the entire organization. The committee will perform research, schedule media interviews and develop press packets which outline the group’s mission and eventually the business model which is adopted.

SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

Here’s my suggestion. Spread the word. Read this l-o-n-g document and think about my points. This is a holy week for many people of faith. This weekend should be a time for family, friends and reflection. Spring is here. Be grateful for what you’ve got. Back down. Take a deep breath and think about what we can accomplish if the majority of us work TOGETHER!

Many of us have discussed this at length behind the scenes. We’re on to something here. This time is different from when P&G took AW, GL and ATWT off the air. The mission is clear. A course is being mapped out. We just need patience, maturity and a little bit of restraint right now. If you’re serious about revitalizing a genre which has brought joy and entertainment to millions of viewers over the years – join in! You will be welcomed with open arms. And together we will make an impact.

So stop feeding the rumor mills. Try and refrain from screaming at ABC. Remember, every time a fan or fan group goes after ABC, it is hurting the cast and crew of the shows more than it is hurting the network. If you have questions, email me. All I know is we have an incredible opportunity here to show the stuff we’re made of. And if you’ve ever watched RuPaul, she goes by this mantra, “Don’t f%#k it up!” Well, Ms. Ru, this time we won’t!

I’m going to make this short and sweet.

Silas Kain, BlogTalkRadio host of Delibernation AND a Soapbox1 contributor, is on a mission….

He’s on a mission to save the soap genre.

HE HAS A PLAN…A DETAILED PLAN…

And He’s attracting A LOT of buzz from some very influential people…

So, without further adieu…

Here is the plan that Silas unveiled on his show Wednesday night.

Soap-osal
By Silas Kain

BACKGROUND & PURPOSE
Procter & Gamble, a major global corporation, began in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1837 as a soap and candle manufacturer. Over the course of 173 years, Procter & Gamble has become a major influence on American culture and family life. In 1878, P&G introduced White Soap which came to be what we know now as Ivory Soap – a product trusted by mothers for over 100 years.

In 1911, P&G introduced Crisco – an all vegetable shortening which would forever change the course of American eating habits and food preparation. Since that time P&G has manufactured and distributed hundreds of consumer products from disposable diapers to toothpaste enhancing the lives of Americans and citizens around the world. Just how did a small soap manufacturer in Ohio achieve such success?

When one looks to P&G inquiring about its rich and diverse history, one main ingredient in what fueled the company’s growth is absent – the genre known as the “soap opera” or daytime serial. P&G along with other consumer products companies invested in the daytime serial as a way to showcase their products. These serials were known as “soap operas” and began in radio before transitioning to television.

Soap listeners and viewers were introduced to new products during their “stories” and, as a result, these companies became giants in the marketplace fueled by consumer demands. In effect, the soap companies and consumers/viewers have had a reciprocal relationship for over half a decade. With the demise of many popular soap operas, the landscape of daytime television has been inextricably changed by the influx of reality programming in the guise of game shows, talk shows and “news” shows.

This assessment or “Soap-osal” is a way of presenting ideas that haven’t been discussed in the public forum. In our communications in with daytime fans from communities all across the nation these last few months, we have found a common sentiment – the reason for the demise of “soap opera” is not for lack of demand. As technology improved since the 1950’s, there has been a definite shift in the paradigm of the typical American family. More households found them being forced to choose between a stay at home parent or having the resources to keep up with the advances. As more women went into the workforce, soap opera viewership of first run episodes reduced giving way to recording devices such as the VCR and DVD-R.

Though there seems to be little information on viewer habits in that area, advertising executives and corporations purchasing advertising have decided that viewers of recorded programming do not factor into the popularity of daytime dramas.

We believe, and continue to strongly maintain, that there is a market for quality serial programming. In this document we will attempt to introduce new ideas into the conversation. Our goal is clear – we want to forge a way to reinvigorate the landscape of daytime programming. And in presenting our case, it is our intention to show that a series of missteps by all parties in this conversation led to the present condition. We want to change the dialog. We understand that producing programming is business. And, in conducting that business, we will attempt to underscore the fact that P&G in particular owns thousands of hours of programming which could be taken and placed back in the market thereby giving stockholders a better, more equitable return on their respective investments.

SOAP OPERA
What is “Soap Opera”?
WikiPedia defines “Soap Opera” this way:
A soap opera, sometimes called “soap” for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on television or radio. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Lever Brothers as sponsors and producers. These early radio serials were broadcast in weekday daytime slots when mostly housewives would be available to listen; thus the shows were aimed at and consumed by a predominantly female audience.
In 1976, Time magazine published a piece in their Television section titled “Sex and Suffering in the Afternoon”. (i)

“The networks lose money on many of their prime-time shows; they need the daytime profits, which are now expected to show a healthy increase, to finance the more expensively produced evening programs. A show like Kojak costs $250,000 to produce but brings in revenues of only $200,000. To make one week of Days of Our Lives costs NBC $170,000; daily advertising revenues are $120,000.”

Citing a paragraph from that article: From a Fan’s Perspective
In a piece (ii) published on Blogcritics.org and in Abbotsford Today, author Silas Kain opined:
Since my introduction long ago, I learned a lot along the way. I learned about the tribulations of soldiers returning home from Viet Nam thanks to Tara and Phil on All My Children (AMC). I came to understand my great grandmother’s stoic Irish Catholic view on life thanks to Maeve and Johnny Ryan on Ryan’s Hope (RH). I came to appreciate art because Victoria Wyndham was afforded the opportunity to expose her art on Another World through her alter ego, Rachel Cory. I came to understand the dynamics of inter-racial relationships because of the courageous writers of One Life to Live (OLTL). I learned how important nurses’ roles are in health care thanks to Carolee Simpson Aldrich on The Doctors.

The bottom line is “soap opera” can be defined in many ways. But, for the American experience, soap opera is more than just entertainment. Based upon comments by network executives and even studios, it is apparent to most in the soap viewer community that the definition of “soap opera” by today’s standards is in opposition to its’ true nature. Ironically, prime time television series in this modern age have adopted many of the soap standards such as continuity of stories from week to week. This phenomenon, based on the popularity of such shows as House, Smallville and even HBO’s True Blood, proves unequivocally there is a demand in the market for quality, plot driven programming.

The Relevance of Soap Opera vs. Reality Programming

Of great concern to viewers in the market which have not been addressed by networks or studios is the lack of well-written episodic comedy and dramas. The main television networks have populated their prime time schedules with a significant amount of “reality” programming. While it is noted several cable stations have adopted the same approach,, i.e. MTV and TLC, the bottom line remains the same. The pool of acting and its related talents dwindles daily. Part of the problem is that the programming which is available today does not inspire children to enter the acting profession. We believe the degradation of the worth of teaching the arts in our public school systems across this nation has directly contributed to this turn of events in programming. Children are no longer inspired to become like some of the acting greats we knew at the first half of this century. Reality television is destructive to those who participate in shows as well as to viewers who find themselves becoming voyeurs of inappropriate and bad behavior as opposed to watching well-written television which entertains, inspires and/or educate.

SAG & AFTRA – The Failure of the Unions & a Profession

AT the same rate, the daytime fan base is also concerned about the complete lack of respect given to daytime professionals. Their acting careers have been minimized and marginalized by their own peers. One could argue that since “soap opera” was once developed to primarily be programming for stay at home women, one is left concluding that the general membership of both unions is exhibiting a bit of gender bias. Since “soap opera” is deemed silly and frivolous by most, fellow union members outside the Daytime community continue to ignore their own.
In the scheme of the collective bargaining paradigm, Daytime actors are treated worse than any other union member is any other profession. The truth is clear. Among members of the acting community, no other segment of entertainment produces more job longevity and secure employment than that of daytime. It’s fact. It’s truth. And these unions have continually benefitted by these members’ steady employment all these years. It is time for the union leadership to address these issues in the public forum. It is most certainly time for union management to step up to the plate and make a commitment to its members who choose to execute their respective professions in the soap genre.

RATINGS & COMPETITION

Demographics
There has been plenty of debate about demographics and that which is “desired” and not. Viewer habits have changed with the advancement of technology while media pundits and ad executives continually fail to create fresh, new approaches to marketing. There is a talent vacuum – not only in the arts but across the board. Part of this has to do with viewers but the majority is directly attributable to the lack of arts in public school curriculum across the nation. In the United States less emphasis is placed on music and the arts in general. As a result our children are less educated, not inspired and have come to believe that the behaviors they see on reality programming is acceptable. While network executives may scoff at the notion by placing the blame on parental controls, there is an underlying truth which continually is ignored. Children are our treasure. They are the future of the nation and the world. Unless we inspire and provide them well-rounded, comprehensive educations which include a significant increase in the study of the arts, the pool of future thespians and creative talent shall be dry and, in the final analysis, demographics will matter not.

Complicity of Soap Media

Unfortunately, the “legitimate” soap opera media has played its part in the demise of soap. What has evolved since the inception of Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly is a series of stories more about spoilers and promoting shows than discussing the issues of the day and how they relate to the genre. We are not placing blame on the soap press – what we are saying is that the studios have manipulated the soap press much in the way studios manipulated Hollywood press in the early days of film. As in all segments of journalism, the soap press should be free to express opinions and report facts. Instead they have been stifled, suppressed and beholden to studio executives who would cut access to cast and crew with any story printed that did not have the imprimatur of studio heads. While that is a reality in journalism in all sectors, this is not the intent of soap opera.

Creating a New Paradigm in Broadcasting

In the 50’s and 60’s there were silent rules in place for programming standards. While on the surface such standards seemed contrary to the intent of the framers of the US Constitution, there have always been standards in place for what is acceptable in broadcasting. All the standards notwithstanding, the quality of programming in those times continues to outshine that which is produced today. The popularity of TV-Land’s Hot in Cleveland starring the 88 year old Betty White has proven that there is demand for quality programming which includes characters outside the “desired demographic”. Reaching 33 million viewers (iii) around the globe, TV-Land has proven with Hot in Cleveland, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that quality programming is in demand and reigns as the viewer’s choice.

SAVING A GENRE – A NEW APPROACH

So, what do we do to save a genre? Daytime fans feel helpless. They are of the opinion that their voices are not being heard. What network executives have completely failed to understand is that the relationship between daytime programming and the viewer is a completely different dynamic from the rest of programming. We are of the opinion that boycotts, threats, and just plain “whining” will not solve the problem. As a result, we’ve come up with a new approach. We want to work with the networks, studios and P&G to come up with a vehicle for reinventing soap opera and restoring some luster to its surface.

Shooting Schedules

One of the downsides of producing a serial has been the amount of time involved in production. What we suggest is a 26 week schedule. Much of soap opera today is immersed with superfluous material to take up the programming slack. By committing to a 26 week shooting schedule, costs are reduced significantly. AQ cable network can continue to broadcast a serial but in a different paradigm.

One way of accomplishing this kind of schedule would be for a cable network to produce two soaps. Each soap could have its own 26 week schedule. Both soaps could share common resources, i.e. crew, production staff, etc. Writing staffs would remain independent as well as acting talent. First rune shows could be aired on staggering weeks. And, if the writing returns to the traditional stories which propelled soap opera to its heyday in the 70’s, Friday “cliff hangers” would entice viewers to “stay tuned” to the following Monday. Of course, from the actor’s perspective one would wonder about the remaining 26 weeks of a year.

Prime Time Guest Spots
Therein comes the idea of cross branding. Like P&G has done with Febreze and a host of other consumer products, P&G has proven that cross branding is a successful mechanism in achieving sales goals and fulfilling investors’ desires. The same could be accomplished here. By freeing up daytime actors for availability in prime time roles or guest roles, prime time production costs could be significantly reduced in some cases. Though many in the acting profession hesitate to applaud the value and contributions of their fellow thespians, it is well known in prime time programming that working with a soap actor in a guest role is a joy for cast and crew alike. Soap actors are traditionally trained and easily learn scripts. They understand the nuances of filming, positioning and lighting better than most because they are involved in all aspects of filming on a daily basis. Another benefit of this cross branding is that it would reintroduce familiar soap actors to prime time audiences thereby enticing viewers to return to their own respective soap roots.

Giving Back – Reinvigorating Local Theater in Communities

Another facet of what we are proposing is encouraging resurgence in promoting the arts on a local level. Since we have accounted for 39 weeks in the year, there remains another 13 weeks to provide actors with work. In most cases actors take 4 weeks per year as vacation time if not more. For those actors who wish to work in these periods, we propose a bold, new initiative which allows actors, writers and crew an opportunity to work with local community theatre groups across the country. We would encourage a new program – “The Irna Phillips Initiative” which brings Daytime actors in touch with local theater groups in collaboration and the spirit of promoting the arts one community at a time.
Under the Irna Phillips Initiative, the Daytime industry would become closely involved with independent theatre groups perhaps through the auspices of The American Association of Community Theatre. Working with this group, soap actors and writers would be given an opportunity to work with up and coming actors, writers, producers and other crew in honing their respective crafts. Over 7,000 theater groups today belong to the association which entertains an audience of 86 million people with 1.5 million volunteers. (iv)

Among these are many non-profit groups which may qualify those who participate for significant tax credits or discounts. We believe that the Irna Phillips Initiative could generate renewed interest in the arts at the local level while exposing daytime fans to their favorite daytime actors. Simultaneously, the experiences of community actors will be enriched by working with acting greats who have the skills, training and talent to teach the craft which they know so well. This Initiative also serves as a great tool in corporations, studios and all the rest in giving back to the community.

We are not stopping with aact. We believe that under this initiative, we can encourage the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (EMMYS), Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (OSCAR), and The American Theatre Wing to join the cause. Each organization awards funds to community theatres and production companies every year. We feel that active participation from these communities is pivotal in creating an atmosphere which would encourage a renewed interest in the arts from Louisiana to Washington State.

Each of these organizations have members which came out of Daytime. These members have a keen understanding of what is involved in producing daytime serials. At the same time, these organizations also recognize that there is a serious lack of initiative in the arts. We believe, to use the vernacular, that this is a “win-win” relationship across the board.

POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES
Why Oprah’s OWN Network First?

As Oprah Winfrey enters her 25th and final season on The Oprah Winfrey Show, we believe Ms. Winfrey would never have achieved her astounding success were it not for the soap opera fans who tuned in to her show after watching their favorite serials. Together with Oprah, fans have learned so much in this journey about themselves, each other and the world. All of that would not have been possible were it not for the daytime fan. The stories told on Daytime opened doors and led to discussions in homes across the land. Daytime dramas opened our minds to alternatives and possibilities.

The core message Ms. Winfrey has imparted during these 25 years is empowerment, encouragement and respect. While she has contributed significantly to the national dialog in many areas, we believe that Ms. Winfrey is in an even stronger position now as she begins the launch of OWN – The Oprah Winfrey Network. In the last few months, subscribers to the OWN Insider have been asked for opinions about what they would like to see on her network. For us, the answer is clear – well written serials. We’re not asking Ms. Winfrey to turn her network into the new SoapNET – quite the contrary. What we’re doing is asking Ms. Winfrey to practice that which she has “preached” during her career. By taking an active role in the Irna Phillips Initiative, Ms. Winfrey’s new network could easily be the conduit we seek in promoting the arts on a local level.

SONY & Soap City

Before SoapNET was launched by Disney, there had been rumors that Sony was interested in launching their own soap cable channel “Soap City”. Once SoapNET had been placed in the market, the Soap City concept seemed to wither away. Sony Pictures continues to have a vested interest in daytime with Bold & the Beautiful, Young & the Restless and Days of Our Lives. Sony continues to own Soap City. Sony’s Soap City was supposed to be the new paradigm in soap opera by offering online airing of serials. We strongly believe that there remains a compelling reason for Sony to consider the resuscitation of Soap City.

Other Cable Networks
The bottom line is that there are many cable networks in the market today who could adopt that which we are proposing from Lifetime, TNT, AMC and more. We believe that networks which are airing quality programming such as the aforementioned Hot in Cleveland, Mad Men, The Closer and more could take advantage of the restructured soap formula. Again, using daytime actors in prime time episodic television may be a cost effective measure.

P&G and the STOCKHOLDERS

Finally there is the issue of rights to programming. Soap fans get it. We understand all too well that P&G wanted out of the soap business. It’s understandable. Producing soaps these days is a costly endeavor which P&G stock holders may not relish. But that doesn’t take away from the simple fact that none of what P&G has accomplished would have been possible without the homemakers they entertained from 1937 through today. Procter & Gamble itself has stated: (v)
We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit, and value creation, allowing our people, our shareholders, and the communities in which we live and work to prosper.

P&G has consistently provided exceptional products at great value not only in the United states but around the globe. Were it not for the pioneering consumers, P&G may very well have been unable to achieve the level of success they celebrate today. P&G has been “rewarded” by consumers consistently throughout its long, stellar business history. Now, what we are doing is asking P&G to remember its roots.

Stockholders, Assets & Goodwill
P&G currently owns what could be a million hours in soap programming. We believe that by allowing these films to sit in a vault, P&G stockholders are losing a valuable commodity. There is an apparent desire for seeing some of what P&G has produced transferred to DVD for consumer
purchase. We believe, especially in the aftermath of Guiding Light, that there could be a demand for commemorative DVDs highlighting the high (and low) points of every P&G soap. We also understand that P&G management has avoided the entire daytime debate deferring to MediaVest and TeleNext. The bottom line is that TeleNext(vi) may proclaim production “victories” with Guiding Light and As the World Turns. The truth, quite simply, is that TeleNext failed in their contractual obligation to P&G and its stockholders to create more effective and creative ways to market P&G produced serials. TeleNext failed in their mission, and the soap viewers are left as unwitting victims.

We have encouraged our own members to inquire to their pension funds managers and mutual fund managers about the amount of P&G stock in their respective portfolios. This is not a malicious attempt to pressure P&G. This is business. We get that. For every pension or mutual fund holder who has an interest in P&G stock, there is a personal vested interest to insure that P&G capitalizes on that which has already been bought and paid for. What we are trying to prove is that this is the time for all parties to forge a new alliance which promotes and encourages creativity in communities while continuing to provide serial programming to the viewers. Unless there is reciprocity, there can only be stalemate.

We are appealing to the better natured management people at P&G to consider that which we suggest. Release the films. If P&G does not want to incur the expense of producing commemorative videos – turn them over to film and journalism schools. Let the young actors and journalists pour through the archives and develop the productions. It means better dividends for stock holders, an enhanced education for students and the satisfaction of consumer demands. We don’t believe that P&G will reap significant financial rewards; however, we do believe that this exhibition of goodwill will be a start in getting past soap operas’ transition into a new paradigm.

CONCLUSION
First of all bringing back a hybrid of P&G soaps can only begin with the cooperation of Procter & Gamble. So, we appeal to P&G management to make available that which is stored away. We respectfully request that they consider our ideas. We’re not asking them to get back into the television production business. What we’re doing is asking them to fulfill their own vision of giving back to communities. Good will goes a long way in a world filled with cynicism and doubt.

Second, we appeal to Oprah Winfrey to consider our ideas. Most pundits say that Ms. Winfrey doesn’t care about soap opera. In fact most pundits say that networks and studios will continue to ignore soap fans in the expectation that as shows are canceled, the viewers’ collective frustration will wither away. Ms. Winfrey’s success began with those soap operas that were her lead in. As she communicated her message of empowerment and giving back to the community, we appeal to her own message by presenting a plan that not only revitalizes soap opera in a dynamic new paradigm but also serves to give back to communities in a revolutionary new manner.

Finally, we appeal to the actors unions and community theatres across the nation. We have at our disposal hundreds of seasoned daytime actors, producers, writers and more. These are professionals who excel at their crafts. They possess gifts and wisdom which is being lost on film students today. This is an initiative which brings the arts to the forefront. It will serve to tap into the creativity of our young and perhaps inspire parents and school officials in school districts to reconsider their apathy toward arts in the schools. Stifling creativity leads to failing students. Failed students lead to unskilled labor and the loss of our treasure.

Today, the United States stands at a precipice. We can move forward and renew the American Dream or we can remain silent and watch the fabric of our lives disintegrate before us. For 70 years serials have served to inspire listeners and viewers to think outside their own worlds. Without soaps, American society may not have achieved such a swift advance in gender and race equality. Were it not for soap opera, many homemakers would not have been exposed to the rapidly advancing technological age. Were it not for soap opera, we would not be here today asking P&G and other principals to consider that which we present.

This entire proposal is dedicated to the seven generations of viewers who came before us rewarding soap companies by buying their products. It is also dedicated to all the fallen greats of Daytime starting with Irna Phillips, Helen Wagner, Frances Reid, Frances Heflin and countless others.
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i “Sex and Suffering in the Afternoon”. Time (Time.com). January 12, 1976.
ii “Leisure: Farewell To A Matriarch As Guiding Light Dims And The World Turns …” AbbotsfordToday.ca June 23, 2010
iii “Hot In Cleveland’ Stars Set to Turn Up the Heat in Cannes” sys.con Media September 7, 2010
iv “about aact” American Association of Community Theatre
v “The Procter & Gamble Company” FundingUniverse.com
vi “Splash Page” Telenext Media