By Silas Kain
Normally my column this week would be about something I like or dislike about one of the many controversial story lines we are experiencing across all three of ABC’s “stories”.
But today I want to appeal to you about the genre of soaps in general.
Let’s face it, you and I both know that in the past 10 to 15 years the soaps really have become a shell of what they once used to be.
Imagine, for a moment, if Irna Philips or any of the Daytime serial greats were alive today! Imagine the compelling stories we’d be enjoying based on what is happening in the world around us.
I can see it now.
The Banner and The Sun doing battle in Llanview over opposing political candidates…with some investigative reporting thrown into the mix.
Or maybe have Erica Kane go off on a tangent on her talk show, which propels her to national fame for a controversial position she took.
Or how about if General Hospital kicked up a commotion over the building of a mosque next to the hospital.
The bottom line is that studio executives (Mr. Frons, are you reading?) just don’t get the missed opportunities.
Had they the vision and integrity of Irna Philips, Agnes Nixon and all the greats – they WOULD be pulling stories from the news and finding a way to weave those magic threads through the tapestries of our serials.
American soap opera is about imitating real life….a metaphor. What we have today is a cheap imitation of Reality TV which is neither real nor television.
Anyway, back to my point…
This week I am going to be on air every night on BlogTalkRadio as we head in to the final week of As the World Turns on CBS.
That’s right. Just because CBS has pulled the plug does not mean the battle is over. It has just begun.
And here’s why ABC fans should care.
First of all, I’ve been through this before with Another World. And, believe it or not, 10 years later there are at least a million AW fans out there who would love to see their show back. I’m certain Guiding Light fans feel the same way.
And over here in the ABC side of things, I’ll bet there are a slew of you who would give anything to see Loving or Ryan’s Hope.
The bottom line is the studios want us to believe that Daytime serials are dying and that it is OUR fault! They want you to buy into their argument that viewership has changed…that there’s more to pick from on television these days and that the double income family has made the homemaker obsolete.
News flash: Were it not for our great Grannies, our Grandma’s, our Moms and ourselves – there would be no worldwide giant known as Procter & Gamble or Colgate-Palmolive.
Our families bought all their detergents, hair sprays, shampoos and depilatories. We fed into the commercials we watched. And when we were hooked and needed that second income just to buy the products – POOF – no more “stories”!
It’s time for Daytime fans to prove their worth in today’s market.
We have a unique opportunity to show that woven into all those silly little stories we’ve watched all these years was a message – We are empowered!
We get the cost of producing a daily show.
We understand that viewership has dropped.
So why not find other ways of creating an environment which would make this genre viable? Why just walk away from a socially valuable commodity?
These soap companies got as big as some of those “too big to fail” outfits on Wall Street. They’re so busy investing money into markets overseas that they’ve lost touch with the people who put them there in the first place!
How many of us who are on union pensions even know that P&G may be in our union’s investment portfolio? How many of us are aware that a great deal of these “American” products aren’t even manufactured here any longer?
The bottom line is a dedicated soap fan knows that he/she has the ability to figure this entire thing out.
Remember, we’re the ones that micromanage our shows. We complain when a director is changed. We’re convulsive when a new Executive Producer takes over. And, well, when a new Head Writer is announced – we are as rabid as bats in a belfry.
For ABC fans, the red flag should be the move of All My Children to LA. Brian Frons has his office on the West Coast. The only ABC property he seems to care about is The View. Were he as committed to One Life to Live as he proclaims, why are they not in Hollywood as well?
ABC can deny rumors and claim loyalty to OLTL. The bottom line is the show is on shaky ground even if Roger Howarth and Kim Zimmer return.
The soap press won’t report it.
They live in constant fear the studios will pull the plug and deny access of soap media.
The majority of printed soap media is nothing but a glorified fan club.
Where are the rabble rousing fans with opinions that matter?
Well, they’re right here on the Internet.
Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly are hereby served notice. We’re picking up where you dropped the ball.
We don’t need access to the studios and the gossip. This isn’t about the private lives of celebrities. And this most certainly is NOT about spoilers.
Thanks to your magazines, you’ve destroyed the allure of Daytime. And we’re here to take it back.
As I said, this week I am on air every night.
Drop by my BlogTalkRadio page and see the lineup.
It’s the Surge on Soaps campaign.
We want to find a home for ATWT. And we want to make certain that the shows which remain on Daytime today are given the support they need.
We’re being bold in our approach. We’re not threatening to turn off the TV. We’re not sending box tops to P&G.
This is business. And when I say business, I mean serious business.
This is about finding a way to cultivate a creative mechanism to keep soaps alive. It begins with Oprah Winfrey, who is herself a direct beneficiary of daytime. We’ll continue with farming the cable networks. We’ll even go to Sony and see if there’s any was to breathe new life into Soap City.
Remember Soap City?
That was going to be a cable soap channel until ABC launched SoapNet. And now SoapNet is leaving cable in favor of a childrens network which will hawk more crap to kids — which parents will have to buy to keep up with the Joneses — who can’t afford to keep up because the jobs they once had have been shipped overseas.
That’s right. It’s about the economy, stupid.
And this time Daytime fans are armed with ammunition.
This week fans are coming together every night to discuss the progress of the ATWT campaign.
But we’re going to discuss more than that.
We’re going to get into the business side of things and explain how the cancellation of a soap puts more than cast and crew out of work.
We’re going to talk about the lack of vision from today’s network executives in capitalizing on the tremendous social value of soap opera.
And, when all else fails, we’re going to discuss how soap actors, writers and crew are a valuable asset in teaching our children about the craft of theater.
Sound provocative? Tune in and hear more.
We’ve got some CRAZY ideas that Oprah may just have no choice but consider. You see, we tuned into Oprah after watching our shows. They were her lead in.
That’s right, Oprah, soap fans know the definition of “lead in”.
Ms. Winfrey has taught us about empowerment, taking control and making a difference. Well, we’re going to ask her to put her money where her mouth is. No, we’re not talking about giving away 5,000 cars or building a house. We’re not talking about Oprah’s favorite things or HARPO studios.
We’re talking about an ambitious plan to prop up a genre in a unique way. Join the conversation. We want to hear what you have to say.
And, I promise next week I’ll write my David Hayward column, which may just send you over the edge.