Special Report: Lying to Her Face, ABC Sets Susan Lucci Up for Embarrassment; Plus Timeline to Demise of ABC Daytime Soaps

(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — After beginning her press tour in promotion of her new memoir "All My Life," Susan Lucci vehemently denied rumors of "All My Children's" demise as anything but and that said rumors were not coming from ABC. While ABC didn't publicly create the rumor, they sure didn't deny it either…except to Lucci and the cast members and crews at "AMC" and "One Life to Live" after the idea of the two being canceled escalated beyond the networks control in the press. So why did the network leave Lucci to look like a fool on national television for weeks, including on their own networks "Good Morning America," while secretly finalizing plans to launch "The Chew" and "The Revolution?" We may never know the answer to that question, but we can take a look back at the timeline of events leading up to the demise of a genre on the ABC Television Network.

For more than a year, ABC Daytime had been looking at ways to cut down costs across the board for its daytime drama lineup, including the possibility of canceling one of its soaps in order to launch new programming such as a Tori Spelling hosted talk show or even one by Aisha Tyler. Before it came down to talk shows, however, according to published reports the network was looking to cut 20 episodes out of its annual 250 episode and above guarantee of daytime drama. The network was seeking support from the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) to get this done as it would have severely cut down on the amount of money writers at their dramas were paid for and the network's bottom line, although the network went ahead with the plan anyway without any confirmation of a deal being made with the WGA. The idea of 20 repeat episodes of each drama series throughout the year included those already airing on or around major holidays.

A Sequence of Change at ABC Daytime

  • On Tuesday, August 4, 2009, ABC Daytime announced they would be moving "All My Children" to the west coast in a cost cutting move after previously denying the rumor which was first reported by Daytime Confidential. "This rumor has been in the zeitgeist for years," said a network spokeswoman in an official statement to Soap Opera Network days before the announcement was made. "If there is ever something official to announce, you will hear it from me."

  • By Tuesday, September 8, 2009, cast members of "All My Children" were required to inform the network if they chose to stay with the show as it moved production to Los Angeles, California or depart.

  • On Friday, December 11, 2009, after 39-years in New York City, production ceased at "All My Children."

  • On Tuesday, January 5, 2010, production began at "AMC's" new Hollywood digs at the Andrita Studios. The show would begin using HD equipment starting with the Tuesday, February 2 episode. "One Life to Live" moved into "AMC's" vacated studio space and did not convert to HD.

  • On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 the Walt Disney Company announced they would replace SOAPnet with Disney Jr., a new cable network dedicated to kids 2-7. "The launch of Disney Junior in the U.S. is the next step in our global preschool strategy, which began 10 years ago with the premiere of our first dedicated preschool channel in the UK. The decision to ultimately transition SOAPnet to accomplish this was not arrived at lightly," said Anne Sweeney, Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC Television Group, when the news broke. SOAPnet would cease transmitton in January 2012 according to published reports.

  • On Wednesday, July 14, 2010, ABC confirmed reports that the network would be cutting down on its regularly scheduled daytime soap output with occasional repeat airings. Via press release, the network stated that "fans have often expressed the desire to see their favorite episodes of our soaps… Throughout the year, ABC Daytime will occasionally encore episodes that will enhance current story and give fans the opportunity to see episodes they really loved and have wanted to see again." This was in response to the network's decision to encore Brenda Barrett related "GH" episodes on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 from 1 PM EST to 3 PM EST, which effectively preempted "All My Children" and "One Life to Live." The network was betting on Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo (who portrays Brenda) to lift the ratings for "General Hospital" upon her return to the networks top soap (in season to date ratings) on Wednesday, August 11, 2010.

  • On Friday, September 10, 2010, reports surfaced with news that "One Life to Live" would begin shooting in 16×9 widescreen format.

  • On Friday, October 1, 2010, Soap Opera Network learned that ABC's era of repeats had begun despite no official deal with the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) allowing this. At the time the network confirmed that they would begin airing encore episodes of their daytime dramas beginning Wednesday, October 27, 2010, which marked the first non-holiday or unanticipated repeat airing for any daytime soap(s).

  • On Friday, November 5, 2010, a "One Life to Live" representative confirms reports that the show will begin shooting episodes in 16×9 widescreen ratio. This move was supposed to be a prelude to the show converting to HD. That never did happen.

  • On Monday, December 6, 2010, "One Life to Live" aired its first episode in 16×9 widescreen ratio. The episode was filmed on Friday, October 26.

  • On Monday, February 7, 2011, after rumors hit the internet, an ABC rep exclusively confirmed to Soap Opera Network that they were indeed dropping the soap repeat airings citing "our viewers like the original episodes better so we are eliminating the non-holiday encore episodes after the 2/11 encore broadcast," as the reason.

  • On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, Daytime Confidential reported that ABC was about to make a major change to its daytime lineup. Noting that it didn't mean a soap opera would necessarily be canceled, the website claimed the network would need to make a decision by the end of the first quarter in order to ready a new program for its daytime lineup. An ABC rep seemingly denied that claim to Soap Opera Network by saying "there's nothing to comment on" and reminded us that the DC story was based on old news that has already been widely reported on, but with some new speculation added in. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see the writing was on the wall.

  • On Sunday, March 13, 2011, the last "ABC Daytime Salutes…Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS" charity event was held at New York's Town Hall with an after party held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel for performers, executives, press and patrons. Over the course of seven years, the event raised more than $1.6 million for AIDS research. Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, did not attend. He had been in attendance in previous years. Could this have been the first sign that the end was near?

  • On Monday, March 21, 2011, an ABC rep didn't necessarily deny a report by Hollywood's most hated and behooved website, Deadline.com, when it claimed that "All My Children" was reportedly on the chopping block after hitting continuous series lows in the key demo of Women 18-49. "The piece is just another story in a long line of stories about this same topic," said the ABC representative responding to Deadline.com's report.

  • On Wednesday, March 23, 2011, just two days after rumors of "AMC's" possible demise broke around the world, Julie Hanan Carruthers, executive producer of "All My Children," took the time to address the cancellation rumor to cast and crew. According to sources, Carruthers told those in attendance that the "[cancellation] rumors are just rumors."

  • On Monday, March 28, 2011, Lucci appeared on "Good Morning America," and while the the rumors of "AMC's" then possible end was not directly addressed by co-host Robin Roberts, Lucci stated "the fact that the network moved us from New York to our brand new digs in LA was a big financial vote of confidence. We just received a letter from the Vice President of Finance, congratulating us on what great shape we're in." Unfortunately for Lucci, being in "great shape" wasn't good enough for ABC.

  • On Friday, April 1, 2011 (April Fool's Day no less), TV Guide Magazine's Michael Logan reported that both "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" were about to be canceled according to his sources, a major twist to the rumors that only one soap would be canceled. At that point, the ball was in the court of Brian Frons to either confirm or dispute rumors and speculation surrounding the four decade old soaps.

  • Also on Friday, April 1, 2011, Lucci appeared on "The Rachael Ray Show" in a taped segment on the same day her memoir was released (Tuesday, March 29) and denied the rumors that hit the mainstream press after the Deadline.com piece when she stated "that is a rumor. It's a rumor that is not coming from ABC. We have… I have just been given my schedule for next year. So, that's what I know!" This was the actress' response in reference to her work schedule with the soap based on her character's future storylines. It only took two weeks for the rumors to be put to rest.

  • On Saturday, April 2, 2011, word broke that ABC decided not to renew Donna Swajeski and David Kreizman's contracts as Head Writers of "All My Children" and instead opted to promote Lorraine Broderick to the Head Writer position. Broderick had been an Associate Head Writer under Swajeski and Kreizman since the duo took over writing duties in early 2010. The news did not calm down the cancellation rumors.

  • On Monday, April 4, 2011, ABC confirmed Broderick was in as head writer of "All My Children." Although her promotion didn't put to rest rumors of the soaps pending cancellation.

  • Also on Monday, April 4, 2011, ABC finally confirmed that Roger Howarth would be returning to "One Life to Live," although it was unclear whether or not he'd reprise his role as Todd Manning, who is currently being portrayed by actor Trevor St. John.

  • On Wednesday, April 13, 2011, ABC quietly posts the first images of "The Chew" crew on their website, ABC.com, along with a description of the series and a biography of the hosts.

  • On Thursday, April 14, 2011 (now known as Black Thursday), Frons took our advice to play ball and canceled "All My Children" and "One Life to Live." The executive visited the set of "All My Children" to announce the cancellation of the 41-year-old soap live and in person to cast members while also canceling "AMC's" sister soap "One Life to Live," whose cast members learned via video feed of the 42-year-old daytime dramas fate. Both casts were told that there was nothing they could have done to save their respective shows and their shows were being replaced by "The Chew" and "The Revolution," which would cost the network 30-40% less each week to produce than the shows they've worked on each and every day, year after year. While it is still hard for many in middle America to find work as we find ourselves getting out of this economic meltodown, it'll be even harder for the hundreds of actors, writers, producers and individuals employed to make them look good in front of and behind the camera to find work in the small world we call the entertainment industry.

  • On Saturday, April 16, 2011, TMZ posted a clip of Lucci on their website where they claim the actress was "blindsided" by the cancellation news. In an upcoming interview with TV Guide Canada's Nelson Branco, the actress reveals that "I wasn't thrown to the wolves; Agnes Nixon was." The first part of the interview will appear on the TV Guide Canada website on Wednesday, May 18, while the remaining portions will appear in the May 26 issue of Hello! Canada.

  • On Tuesday, April 19, 2011, Deadline.com posts a scathing report that SOAPnet isn't going anywhere after all…at least not when it was first expected to. According to their post citing a Disney insider, Frons and his team, headed up by Kate Nelson, Vice President, Business Development & Programming Strategy, Daytime Television, were told by Anne Sweeney to "evolve" SOAPnet for the future, "especially as more people had DVRs and just airing soaps at night was not enough." A DirecTV representative confirmed that SOAPnet would not be leaving the airwaves when they said, "We have had discussions with Disney on its new channel, but for now things are status quo (meaning SOAPnet stays up)."

  • On Tuesday, April 26, 2011, TMZ revealed that ABC was being sued by the estate of Frank and Doris Hursley, the creators of "General Hospital."

  • On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, an ABC representative confirmed reports of SOAPnet's continued future to Soaps In Depth. When asked if there would be programming available now that "AMC" and "OLTL" would air their last episodes prior to SOAPnet's demise, an ABC rep stated the cable network will "absolutely have programming," but was unable to comment on which programs would replace the two iconic soaps in their 8:00 and 9:00 PM ET/PT timeslots.

  • On Friday, April 29, 2011, a stunningly beautiful looking Lucci was a featured guest on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and revealed that she was only told five minutes before the rest of the cast and crew that "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" were being canceled.

  • On Thursday, May 5, 2011, it was announced that ABC was close to finalizing a deal for a Katie Couric hosted talk show to debut in fall 2012. According to TMZ, the $20 million offer would essentially force ABC to cancel "General Hospital."

  • On Wednesday, May 11, 2011, Lucci revealed on "The View" that "All My Children" last airs on Friday, September 23, 2011. The news was confirmed by an ABC representative that said "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" will conclude in a way "to honor the core, passionate audience and their rich history with our soaps." The rep added that "'All My Children' will conclude in a manner that respects its legacy and the longstanding hopes of many of its viewers," when asked if there was anything specific ABC has planned for the shows final months.

  • On Saturday, May 14, 2011, Soap Opera Network posted the first clips of "The Chew" and "The Revolution." Fans of canceled "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" immediately sounded off with negative responses. According to sources, "One Life" last airs on Friday, January 20, 2012.

  • On Sunday, May 15, 2011, promos for "The Chew" began airing on ABC. The first promo aired in the first half-hour of top rated "Desperate Housewives'" season finale episode.

 

  • All My Children
  • One Life to Live
  • Susan Lucci
  • Julie Hanan Carruthers
  • David Kreizman
  • Donna Swajeski
  • Lorraine Broderick
  • General Hospital
  • Deadline.com
  • Michael Logan
  • Good Morning America
  • Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo
  • Soap Opera Network
  • The View
  • Brian Frons
  • Nelson Branco
  • TV Guide Canada
  • Roger Howarth
  • Trevor St. John
  • TMZ
  • Katie Couric
  • Tori Spelling
  • Aisha Tyler
  • Robin Roberts
  • The Tonight Show
  • Jay Leno
  • The Chew
  • The Revolution
  • Deadline Hollywood
  • Suds Report
  • Hello! Magazine

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