Saturday, August 15, 2009 1:00 AM ET | By Scotty Gore
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Moving on up to the west side… “One Life to Live” inherits the soon-to-be vacated studios of “All My Children” early next year when that soap moves to Los Angeles. But is the move good news for “OLTL,” or the kiss of death?
Unless you’ve been living underground the past few weeks, you have likely heard the news that ABC Daytime is shifting production of “All My Children” from New York City to Los Angeles beginning in December, and that “One Life to Live” will move into its sister soap’s much larger current studio in Manhattan, in an attempt to make both soaps more cost efficient.
Since the announcement, critics have argued that moving “AMC” cross country to be closer to the network’s longest running soap “General Hospital,” seals the fate of “One Life to Live,” since it will be left as the broadcaster’s only remaining New York based soap. But does it really?
Unlike some of my fellow staff members and posters at SON, I am a relative outsider when it comes to the interworkings of a television network. For all I know, ABC could make good on the rumors that “One Life to Live” will be cancelled next year and be replaced by an annoying talk show. It’s certainly plausible. However, I think that there is a more logical approach to this issue, one that involves common sense. Perhaps I’m just being naïve in my thinking, especially given the fact that common sense and ABC Daytime are more often than not like oil and water. Only time will tell whether I or my cynics are correct, however I feel that certain people are trying way too hard to read more into ABC’s announcement than is really there.
With regards to “AMC’s” bi-coastal move and “OLTL’s” intercity relocation, I am of two minds. Upon first hearing the news, I got the impression that ABC was doing what the broadcaster felt was necessary in order to keep its three-hour weekday afternoon soap block in tact. When you think about, it makes sense. “AMC” is regularly over budget, while “OLTL” is routinely under budget. By moving the former to West Coast, they can save money on production costs and tighten the show’s budget. It also gives a boost of confidence to “OLTL” by giving them a larger studio, which will provide them with more room for sets and props. Also, unlike CBS and NBC, ABC appears committed to preserving all three of their daytime dramas. ABC could have effortlessly announced the cancellation of one or more of their soaps last week, since they are all owned and produced by the network. But instead, they revealed their commitment to convert both “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” to High Definition format early next year. And upgrading to HD doesn’t come cheap. It is reported that ABC spend at least $3 million to convert “General Hospital” alone to HD. Plus, think of the moving expenses for relocating all of “AMC’s” sets, costumes, and equipment from New York to L.A., as well as the added man hours needed to move “OLTL” down the street. If ABC were ready to cancel either soap, why relocate both of them and upgrade them to HD?
Once I began to digest the news, I started to develop a second theory on the decision. I began to wonder if ABC was using “All My Children” as a sort of guinea pig, in an attempt to test the waters as to how successful a 3,000 mile move from one coast to the other would be. Perhaps the network has long-range plans of relocating all their soaps to L.A., and chose “AMC” first either because they thought it was the strongest of the two, or because they considered it to be more in danger of cancellation than “OLTL” at the moment. Either way, “AMC’s” success or failure in L.A., could ultimately decide “OLTL’s” future.
Regardless of which, if either, theory turns out to be true, there is certainly no doubt that the era of the daytime soap opera is nearing extinction. Gone are decades like the 1950s and 60s when more wives and mothers were homemakers and most families could receive only a handful of stations on television. Now we are in the age of increasing technology, digital television with hundreds of channels, and a majority of women entering the work force to help support their families. Faced with those facts, it is inevitable that soap opera ratings would decline. Too add to the problem, viewers are no longer forced to watch each episode of their favorite soap in suspense, wondering what will happen next, given how easily one can read weekly and monthly previews for that particular soap on Internet websites dedicated to soaps (such as SON) and in magazines. In some ways, the American soap opera is becoming as outdated and unnecessary as the British royal family. Despite the fact that the British monarchy no longer has any real political power or influence, they remain hugely popular and a symbol of rich tradition and history. In my opinion, soaps suffer much the same plight.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t count “OLTL” as being out just yet. I think the show still has a lot of ‘Life’ let to ‘Live,’ so to speak. Remember that things aren’t always as appear to be. In 1977, Ken Olson (president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.) commented that “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” A Western Union company memo from 1876 states that “The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” Royal Society president Lord Kelvin believed in 1895 that “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” In 1943, Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, said that “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” And in 1899, Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents, was quoted as saying “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” In other words, the critics aren’t always right. Who knows, we may all look back at this debate nine years from now and think, as “OLTL” marks its 50th anniversary, how stupid people were back in 2009 to believe that the show was about to be cancelled. Hindsight is always 20/20.
To reiterate, I’m no network insider, only a boy from south central Kentucky who grew up watching “One Life to Live,” quickly becoming a devoted fan of the show, whose dedication ultimately landed him a position of the staff of Soap Opera Network covering the characters and fictional town he idolized since childhood. I admit that I am somewhat bias in my thinking that “OLTL” is in no immediate danger of cancellation. However, a closer look at the facts provides some weight to my argument. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time, and it likely won’t be the last time either. But something about all this just leads me to believe that “OLTL” isn’t leaving the airwaves anytime soon.
For those of you unable to figure out the answers to the trivia questions from my last column, here they are (correct answers in bold): Question #1: In 2000, Nora Hanen was presumed dead following what type disaster? a) car crash, b) train explosion, c) plane crash, or d) boating accident. Question #2: For what reason was Todd Manning pardoned for his crimes in 1994? a) Blair Cramer seduced the governor into pardoning him, b) Larry Wolek discovered a brain tumor that made Todd not criminally responsible for his crimes, c) Todd rescued Marty Saybrooke, CJ Roberts, and Jessica Buchanan from a car accident, or d) Todd agreed to testify against mob boss Carlo Hesser. Question #3: What caused Clint Buchanan to go blind in 1987? a) He was shot in the head, b) He developed a brain tumor, c) A bomb exploded in his face, or d) He was trapped in a chemical fire at The Banner. And Question #4: Which South American country did Jenny Wolek flee to in 1975, in order to work at a convent? a) San Alicia, b) San Bernardo, c) San Carlos, or d) San Daivo.
Now it’s time to play “Llanview, Who Am I?,” a new feature where you have to use the clues to figure out the identity of a mystery character from “OLTL’s” past. In 1969, this young lady arrived in town with her widowed father, who became a dedicated doctor at Llanview Hospital. When her father decided to remarry, she became very angry and eventually developed a drug addiction. She was sent to Odyssey House, in an attempt to clean up her act. She eventually entered into a relationship with Viki Lord’s ex-husband Joe Riley (while Viki was married to Steve Burke), and became pregnant with his child. Upon giving birth it was discovered that the child had a congenital heart defect, which she had inherited from her father Joe. The medical issue was unknown to everyone except Viki and the doctors. While at Llanfair, the baby began to have difficulty breathing, prompting Viki to rush her to the hospital. Along the way, she was involved in a serious car accident and the baby girl died (Viki slipped into a coma for several months). The baby’s mother blamed Viki for her daughter’s death and vowed revenge. She eventually married Viki’s brother Tony, who became concerned for his wife’s welfare and urged her to seek professional treatment. In 1976, she completely snapped and kidnapped Viki and Joe’s (who had recently reunited) newborn son Kevin, and placed him up for adoption. Eventually a friend found out the truth and persuaded her to contact her doctor father, who flew to Arizona to retrieve his daughter and return her to Llanview. In 1978, she left Llanview for good and moved someone out in the western U.S., never to be heard from again.
So who is this mysterious character from the past? I’ll have the answer in the August 30th edition of “My View in Llanview.” Until then enjoy the remainder of the summer and stay safe. Best wishes.
And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live”…
“One Life to Live” airs Weekdays on ABC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Check local listings.
Discussion: My View of Llanview: August 15 Edition