“As The World Turns” alum Jesse Lee Soffer (ex-Will Munson) is sure making a name for himself outside of daytime television. As previously reported, the actor is starring in NBC’s newest police procedural, “Chicago P.D.,” which is scheduled to premiere on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:00 PM ET/PT. The series follows a group of men and women of the Chicago Police Department’s elite Intelligence Unit, combatting the city’s most heinous offenses – organized crime, drug trafficking, high profile murders and beyond. Leading the cast is Jason Beghe as Detective Sgt. Hank Voight, who is at ground zero of the war on crime in Chicago.
TVGN is proving why it’s now the “the new way to watch soaps.” With the network already picking up encore airing rights to “The Young and the Restless” this past summer, and “The Bold and the Beautiful” earlier this month, the network plans to provide soap fans with even more “soap” for their viewing pleasure courtesy of the new documentary, “Who Shot the Daytime Soap?” Airing Monday, December 16 at 8:00 PM ET/PT, preceded by airings of “B&B” at 6:30 PM ET/PT and “Y&R” at 7:00 PM ET/PT, the documentary tackles the history of daytime soap operas as told by those who were there during the good times, the bad times and the new times.
“The past five years have seen a collapse of epic proportion within the soap opera industry. What was once a formidable lineup of no less than 14 network soap operas in the 1980′s has collapsed to just four – ‘General Hospital’ on ABC, ‘Days of our Lives’ on NBC and ‘The Young and the Restless’ and ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ on CBS and now TVGN,” is the opening statement from the documentary that features interviews with several daytime legends, veteran stars, and a host of talents from behind the scenes that have helped make the soap opera genre the longest running form of television entertainment.
Now playing in a theater near you, “Tyler Perry‘s A Madea Christmas” follows Perry’s titular character, Mabel “Madea” Simmons, as she accompanies her niece, Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford), to pay a surprise visit to Eileen’s daughter, Lacey, who has mysteriously informed her she’s not coming home for the holidays. In reality, Lacey followed Connor (Eric Lively), the man she loves and secretly married, from the big city to a small Alabama town as he fights to save his family farm from bankruptcy.
Portraying Lacey is Tika Sumpter (Candace Young, “The Haves and the Have Nots”; ex-Layla Williamson, “One Life to Live”), who says of her character, “She’s from the city so she knows how to hustle a bit. She’s a kind-hearted, good person – she wants good for all – but in her trying to do good sometimes she says the wrong things and spreads a few small lies that plant the seeds of disaster.”
Speaking of “General Hospital’s” Emily Wilson (Ellie Trout), the actress announced on Monday, December 9 that she will be appearing on ABC’s “Castle” courtesy of a blurred out Twitter image. While she didn’t post any character information or episode details, a rep for the show confirms to Soap Opera Network that the actress is in fact scheduled to appear in a future episode of the primetime procedural that stars “One Life to Live” alum, Nathan Fillion (ex-Joey Buchanan), as novelist Richard Castle. The rep was unable to provide an airdate for Wilson at this time.
An ABC representative confirms to Soap Opera Network that actors Bradford Anderson (Damien Spinelli) and Emily Wilson (Ellie Trout) will soon be departing “General Hospital.” Per the rep, Anderson’s last airdate as Damian Spinell is scheduled for Tuesday, December 17, while an exact airdate is unknown for Wilson at this time. However, in its newest issue, Soap Opera Digest spoke with head writer Ron Carlivati, who said of Wilson’s exit, “It’s kind of hinged on Bradford’s desire to move on. We had kind of hitched Ellie’s wagon to Spinelli’s star, so in the desire to want to give him a happy ending, part of that involved Ellie going with him. I think it would have been sad to send him off by himself with this child, and also very hard to make sense, you know, that there was this great PI job that he couldn’t turn down.”
Each week Soap Opera Network publishes ratings reports that break down the highs and lows of the four remaining daytime soap operas – “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Days of our Lives,” “General Hospital” and “The Young and the Restless” – in total viewers and the all important key women sales demos (Women 18-34, Women 18-49 and Women 25-54). Today, with both ABC and CBS noting the success of “GH” and “Y&R,” respectively, TheWrap has published a piece entitled, “If Soaps Are ‘Dead,’ Why Are Their Audiences Growing?” In its report, the publication notes that each of the soaps are up season-to-date in all key ratings categories. Meanwhile, some of the replacements for the canceled ABC versions of ”All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” specifically talk shows, have all “come and gone like, um, sands through the hourglass.”
Meanwhile, Deadline Hollywood published a piece on the renewed success of “GH” and how it overtook “Y&R” to rank number one for the week in Women 25-54 for the first time in over six years.
FILMS & DEALS
Lionsgate announced today that it has acquired the feature film rights to “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” the New York Times bestselling biographical tale that questions the details about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Authored by Dr. Reza Aslan, “Zealot” was released to bookstores and online publishing retailers earlier this year.
“Reza Aslan has written a remarkable book that manages to bring the ancient world into contemporary relief and to make a timeless story very timely. We are excited to create this uniquely cinematic and immersive world for moviegoers to experience,” said Erik Feig, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s President of Production, in announcing the deal.
Dr. Aslan commented, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Lionsgate. Their vision for ‘Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth’ is aligned with my objective in writing the book, which was to illuminate the life of Jesus in a humanistic, as opposed to religious, context.”
UPDATE 10:01 PM ET: Carnes just tweeted, “Ah, Port Charles, it is!”
While hints of a possible return to “General Hospital” began on his Twitter page last week, where he referred to numerous Ports in the world (Portlandia, Port Hueneme, Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach), an ABC representative confirms to Soap Opera Network that actor Ryan Carnes will be reprising his role as Lucas Jones, the adopted son of Bobbie (Jacklyn Zeman) and Tony Jones (Brad Maule), on the ABC Daytime drama series. “Like a ship lost in the night at sea, wondering where my next port will be…,” Carnes tweeted on Wednesday, December 4.
Out of all the talent behind “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” the one voice missing after news that neither series would be moving forward with new episodes was that of Daytime Emmy Award winning actress Erika Slezak (ex-Victoria Lord, “OLTL”). On her official website, Slezak has broken her silence via her 2013 Holiday Letter for fans. In it, Slezak says, “I loved being back at ‘OLTL’; I loved being back with all my friends on the show and we had a wonderful time although it was short lived. Still, I am very grateful for that brief opportunity to have played Viki once more.”
While reporting on the nominees for the 2014 Writers Guild of America Awards (See: WGA Nominations: ‘Days of our Lives’, ‘General Hospital’ and ‘The Young and the Restless’), a couple of names appeared to have been omitted, specifically “Days of our Lives” co-head writer, Gary Tomlin, and former “The Young and the Restless” head writer, Josh Griffith. A couple of you inquired with us about that, and I in fact initially questioned it myself, at least until I was quickly reminded that both Tomlin and Griffith went “fi-core” during the 2007-2008 writers strike.