Could the incompetence of a network executive get any uglier? Why yes, it can! The latest in a series of blunders by Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, since the announcement that he has decided to “evolve” ABC Daytime by canceling “All My Children and “One Life to Live” by replacing them with “The Chew” and “The Revolution,” while sticking his foot in his mouth in interview (Deadline.com), after interview (Entertainment Weekly), after interview (The Wrap), comes a scathing report by another Disney Insider that paints Frons as an executive without much imagineers (Disney speak for imagination).
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — For the past two and a half weeks, I found myself in unfamiliar territory when it came to running the website as I was based out of Los Angeles. Normally, I run things here in New York. What I found unfamiliar, however, was finding out the true stories behind what many soap fans can’t seem to get enough of – the Disney/ABC and Prospect Park connection as it relates to “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” and even “General Hospital.” So what did I learn that I can share with you? Plenty!
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — As we reported yesterday, we likely have to thank our federal government for providing the funding necessary for Prospect Park to pick up “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” which were both canceled by ABC on Thursday, April 14. The announcement that ABC would be licensing the two iconic soaps to Prospect Park was made on Thursday, July 7, but according to sources the financial deal actually came together back in May, just in time for what is said to be the deadline period for the government to hand out grant money to companies looking to invest in New Media. We thought it was crazy too, but we checked and it is definitely true. What we know about this deal is that upon their completion on ABC, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” will be migrated to an as-yet-to-be-named Hulu-esque internet video service that would allow both daily soap operas to continue their storytelling for millions of online users and “be delivered with the same quality and in the same format and length,” as fans have come to expect for more than forty years, according to the joint press release issued from Disney/ABC and Prospect Park. Translation: One hour per day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year will remain within the realm of reality. What wasn’t clear at the time was after both soaps complete their runs on ABC, they will also conclude on SOAPnet.
Insiders tell Soap Opera Network that even with the multi-year, multi-platform licensing deal with Prospect Park, the deal does not call for Disney/ABC to air either programs on their owned and operated networks, which includes SOAPnet, despite the channel now expected to remain on cable/satellite systems longer than originally thought due to some minor issues the Walt Disney Company had been having with the launch of its Disney Junior cable network. Additionally, when an ABC representative confirmed to Soaps in Depth back in late April that SOAPnet would “absolutely have programming” after “AMC” and “OLTL” ended their runs, they neglected to name which programming would be in place. Soap Opera Network has confirmed with the same representative that the programming in question will not include “All My Children” or “One Life to Live.” In fact, after yesterday’s announcement was released, the Disney/ABC Television Group made it clear that they are no longer in charge of the day-to-day operations of either of your favorite daytime soaps once their runs are completed on ABC and SOAPnet. If you want to know what’s going to happen next on “All My Children” after it ends on Friday, September 23, don’t call, write or email Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group. He is not in charge of that show and he will not be in charge of “One Life to Live” either after the series airs its final broadcast on Friday, January 20, 2012. Prospect Park, which at this time has no plans to release any further details surrounding the new venture beyond what was already reported, according to a representative, is in the early stages of what will surely be a drawn out discussion with the people that help make your favorite soaps as well as the unions these individuals belong to as neither union, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), was prepared for this new business model when they last negotiated their contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which comprises The Walt Disney Company, among others. AFTRA is the primary union representing on-air talent for daytime soaps.
Now that “One Life” is continuing with a second one under Prospect Park, fans around the world are wondering how does this affect the storylines, how does this affect the cast, the crews, the writers and even the producers? Digging a little further, with last month’s announcement that Ron Carlivati, who currently serves as “One Life to Live’s” head writer, would be transitioning to “General Hospital” as a script writer later this year when the show completes its run on ABC, it really begs the question of what happens next? Not only for that soap, but for “All My Children” as well. “It’s too early to know,” said a ABC insider requesting anonymity. “The details are too fresh on everyone’s minds for it to be determined who will be running these shows, or particularly writing them, after they finish their ABC runs.” The same also holds true for who will be appearing on your favorite soaps as they transition to your computer screens as well, the insider informed us. In fact, according to “All My Children” star JR Martinez (Brot Monroe) in a twitter posting, “I will say this-my current contract was to terminate on August 31st. Now we must see who they want to keep & renegotiate with. Not sure…” It appears as though the termination Martinez is referring to holds true for all current contract cast members at “AMC,” leaving Prospect Park to renegotiate with the cast and even the crews in order to properly transition the series to the web in the “same quality” fans have come to expect. But back to Carlivati. He along with “One Life” Executive Producer Frank Valentini signed new deals with ABC back in September of 2010. The terms of the agreements were not disclosed, but it was understood to last two years for Valentini and three years for Carlivati, so does that mean the two will remain with “One Life” under the guidance of Prospect Park? Or has ABC opted to keep the dynamic duo under its charge leaving new blood to step in and head write and produce the show with the “same quality and in the same format and length” as before? As our insider said before “It’s too early to know.” There is no word on what this development means for “All My Children” Executive Producer Julie Hanan Carruthers or Head Writer Lorraine Broderick.
However, one of the big questions left unanswered are where will the shows be produced? “All My Children” moved its production to the Andrita studios in Los Angeles, CA back in January of 2010 in a multi-year licensing deal. Will the show remain in that studio? It looks like it will as the cost factor would be too great for Prospect to move the series once more. However, things look a little less certain for “One Life to Live,” which took over “AMC’s” New York studio space housed in the ABC Television Center. With ABC no longer producing the series it is likely the series will be moved to another facility or moved to the West Coast right along with “AMC” in order for Prospect Park to better manage the daily operations of the drama series.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” may be ending their four decades’ long run on ABC in September and January respectively, however it won’t be the end of the road for either of the long-running, iconic daytime drama series. In a shocking development, upstart television, film, and music company Prospect Park Studios has purchased the rights from the network, who states that “the multi-year, multi-platform deal enables the soaps to continue beyond their finale dates on ABC.”
The news comes less that 24 hours after the New York Post first broke the news on their website reporting that ABC had sold the online rights to its recently cancelled shows “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” to the studios, and that “Prospect Park is said to be finalizing its current round of funding for its Hulu-style venture in the next month to 45 days. Other unnamed financial backers are involved.” The article was initally met with much skepticism from soap fans and well as from other media outlets who were claiming the Post article contained numerous factual inaccuracies.
In a joint press release this afternoon by ABC and Prospect Park, which was founded in 2009 by Jeffrey Kwatinetz and former Disney Studios chief Rich Frank, “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. 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,” the statement continued. “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.” Prospect Park is perhaps best known for producing “Royal Pains” for the USA Network and “Wilfred” for FX.
As part of the deal, which was brokered by the Disney/ABC Domestic Television Group, “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.” However, while the statement notes that both shows will continue to exist in their present hour-long formats, it is vague as to the frequency in which new episodes will air.
“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,” comments Janice Marinelli, President, Disney/ABC Domestic Television.
President of the Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group Brian Frons, who announced the cancellation of “Children” and “One Life” back on April 15 in favor of the less-expensive, unscripted programming such as “The Chew” and “The Revolution,” said in the statement that “‘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. 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.”
The sentiments were furthered echoed by “AMC” and “OLTL” creator Agnes Nixon, who has been tirelessly searching for new venues for both shows in recent months, saying “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. 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.”
“All My Children” will air its final episode on ABC on Friday, September 23, 2011 while “One Life to Live” will last air on the network on Friday, January 20, 2012.
Soap Opera Network will continue to follow this story and bring you further details as they develop.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — After fifteen years of working in various positions on the “One Life to Live” writing staff, including serving as the show’s head scribe for the last three years, ABC has announced that Ron Carlivati will be joining “General Hospital” as a script writer. The move will fulfill the remainder of the three-year contract Carlivati signed with the network last September. A similar two-year deal was hammered out at the time with “One Life” Executive Producer Frank Valentini.
Despite the timing of the news, “OLTL” fans breath a sigh of relief, however, since Carlivati is not expected to begin his new duties until after the show wraps production sometime in mid-November. “One Life to Live” will air its final episode on January 20, 2012.
Carlivati echoed the sentiment in a press release, saying that “I remain fully committed to Frank Valentini and ‘One Life to Live’ as the show’s Headwriter until the series concludes in January of 2012. It has been my distinct honor to write for Agnes Nixon’s groundbreaking soap opera for the past fifteen years, and it will be with a heavy heart that I, along with my incredibly talented team, pen its finale. At that time, I am happy to announce that I will then be joining the writing team of ‘General Hospital,’ and am thrilled to be working once again with Executive Producer Jill Phelps as well as new Headwriter Garin Wolf.”
Wolf was just named “GH” headwriter last month by Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, upon the firing of the show’s former head scribe Robert Guza, Jr.
The news of Carlivati’s move to the L.A.-based “Hospital,” was broken Thursday by “One Life’s” soon-to-be-departing leading lady Robin Strasser, who tweeted that ” JUST TOLD but NOT told it wuz SECRET: Ron CARLIVATI to #GH as script writer-hopes 2 b co-head writer? Yo,I’m taking heat for leaving early?” Strasser, as we previously reported, is leaving “OLTL” this summer to have back surgery. Her final tape date is Friday, July 1.
Carlivati, along with his writing staff, won a Daytime Emmy in 2008 for their work on “One Life to Live.” He began his daytime career on the soap as a Writer’s Assistant from 1996-1998, before being promoted the the position of Script Writer. In 2001 he was again promoted, this time to the job of Breakdown Writer. In May 2007, he was appointed Co-Head Writer (along with Dena Higley). In September of that year, he was named the show’s sole Head Writer following the network’s dismissal of Higley, where he has continued to serve (minus a brief hiatus during the 2008 Writer’s Strike) in the same capacity.
Click here to read an interview Soap Opera Network did with Carlivati in March of this year, one month before ABC announced the cancellation of “One Life to Live” and sister soap “All My Children.”
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — ABC’s “General Hospital” has announced that effective immediately Garin Wolf will replace outgoing Robert Guza Jr. as its head writer. The announcement was made by Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group.
“Garin is a talented writer and storyteller who has been a part of the ‘General Hospital’ family for nearly 15 years,” said Frons. “His in-depth knowledge and adoration for the show’s legacy will help make a smooth transition and an immediate impact on story,” said Frons. “I’m sure he will succeed in taking ‘General Hospital’ to new heights as he develops characters and storylines that will engage and thrill our viewers.”
According to ABC, Wolf has been part of the “General Hospital” writing team since 1997 for which he won two Daytime Emmy Awards. In addition to his time at the flagship ABC soap, Wolf had written for CBS’ “As The World Turns” and SOAPnet’s “General Hospital: Night Shift.” While he’s best known for his work on soaps, Wolf is also credited for his time at animated series “Batman” and “Tiny Toon Adventures.” He won a Writer’s Guild of America Award for his work on “GH.”
As we all know, four weeks ago Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, visited the set of ABC’s “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. According to Frons, with “The Chew” and “The Revolution” the network will be saving between 30-40% a week on programming costs. It’s easy to see why as Soap Opera Network has your exclusive first look at the new programming that falls under the networks “It’s a Brand New Day” promotional campaign. Materials for the campaign will be sent out to advertisers and press outlets beginning next week as the network presents its 2011-2012 daytime and primetime schedule to Madison Avenue’s elite buyers at the Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center in New York City on Tuesday, May 17. Soap fans are scheduled to protest outside the event from 2:00 – 6:00 PM.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Katie Couric announced last week that she would be leaving her post as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” after five years with the network. The former “Today” show co-host plans to launch a daytime talk show in the fall of 2012. Word has it that ABC is in serious discussions to bring the well known personality to the Disney/ABC Television Group fold, but what does that mean for ABC’s “General Hospital” now that it’s former lead-ins “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” are being replaced with “The Chew” and “The Revolution?”
Although Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group said “I’m not talking to her,” in an interview with Deadline.com when asked if he’d consider pursuing Couric after news of the cancellations of “AMC” and “OLTL” became public, that doesn’t mean ABC News President, Brian Sherwood, wasn’t. According to Deadline, Sherwood has been the front man in the networks discussions with Couric’s team that includes former NBC Universal President and CEO and “Today Show” executive producer, Jeff Zucker, and Ed Wilson, President, Tribune Broadcasting. Reportedly, any show distributed by Disney/ABC with Katie Couric would be syndicated around the country and wouldn’t necessarily air on ABC. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, however. Deadline speculates that should the prospective show be syndicated, but air on the majority of ABC stations, the network would be forced to move “General Hospital” out of its protected 3:00 PM ET/2:00 PM PT slot in order to get the lucrative space from its ABC affiliates. The move wouldn’t necessarily mean the demise of the ABC Daytime staple.
ABC will probably have to give an hour of daytime programming back to the affiliates and that would likely be the 3 PM slot currently occupied by General Hospital though it doesn’t necessarily mean that the sole soap on ABC’s daytime schedule will be canceled as it may be moved to an early time period. The Chew and The Revolution are set to take over the 1 PM and 2 PM slots in the fall and in January but the odds are they won’t both succeed, leading to a vacancy.
What about CBS? Why can’t Couric just stay there? While a 30-day matching window began today, TMZ is reporting that all talks with the network and Couric’s team have ceased as of yesterday after both sides were unable to come to terms where Couric would remain a prominent presence within CBS News. CBS was only willing to give her face time on “60 Minutes,” while Couric wanted more.
Stay tuned to Soap Opera Network as this story continues to unfold!
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — “General Hospital: Night Shift” premiered on July 12, 2007 with an average of 1 million total viewers and just under 500,000 viewers in Women 18-49. The reach the soap had was beyond anyone’s expectations at SOAPnet and the Disney-ABC Television Group. So what does the head of the company’s daytime division think of the premiere? “Obviously thrilled. There is a mass idea there where you put all of these ‘GH’ viewers and say ‘let’s come up with something that is spun out of ‘GH’ and put it on SOAPnet.’ It seems like a pretty basic programming idea, but you still have to make a terrific show and hope that people will watch it — and Jill and Bob have done that.”
On Saturday, July 14, 2007, Soap Opera Network was given an opportunity to speak with Brian Frons, [President, Daytime, Disney-ABC Television Group], after the “General Hospital: Night Shift” press panel at SOAPnet’s portion of the Television Critics Association Press Tour. In this five minute interview, Mr. Frons speaks candidly about “Night Shift” and how the show’s success relates to “General Hospital” and what changes are in store for “The View.”
With the success of the “Night Shift,” could plans of re-airing the show on ABC be far away?
“Not right now; I think that is certainly something we will consider for the future, but right now we are giving it multiple airings on SOAPnet and we are trying to use it as something to really draw people to the channel who haven’t been watching.”
If there are no plans on airing the show on ABC, how will the network help promote the series?
“I think that what we really have been using ABC for is as a promotional platform. This past week we’ve had longer than usual trailer’s for ‘Night Shift’ and ‘GH’ that pushed people to SOAPnet.”
Any spin-off plans for “All My Children” or “One Life to Live?”
“No, it is something certainly we will take under consideration. However, with ‘GH’ it was sort of a natural kind of thing as Robin and Patrick are always getting into trouble in the middle of the hospital. It was easy enough to imagine them being punished in some way – it just seemed to be a very natural idea. For the other shows it would need to be something that would make sense, like the McBain murders [One Life to Live]. We’d need to have something that we felt was right for each of the shows and that we had the time and the money.
While watching “Night Shift” and knowing that Jason is currently involved in a murder case on “GH,” was it a last minute idea to add Steve Burton into the show?
“It was something that came up prior to us writing the show. What happened was Steve has wanted to direct and he thought it might be fun if he could direct an episode and show up and do something new. Actors love to do something new and so the idea was kinda funny as we don’t talk about it, because you know usually everyone Jason kills is a bad person and deserves to die. Here we have the Angel of Death floating around the hospital, which we will deal with in the last episode of the series.”
“Night Shift,” the second spin-off of ABC’s “General Hospital” (“Port Charles” being the first), is set in the ER of Port Charles’ General Hospital. The series centers on Doctor’s Patrick Drake (Jason Thompson) and Robin Scorpio (Kimberly McCullough), who were sent to the Night Shift after the two performed surgery on a patient who lacked proper medical insurance without consent from hospital board administrators. The storyline may have started on “GH” but is continuing on “Night Shift.” However, once the primetime soap hit the air any continuity the soap may have had initially with its mother-ship may be whipped away.
How will you deal with the continuity of both series as their storyline’s are sure to intermingle?
“One of the early decisions we had to make was whether or not we think it is the same time. Because the tape schedule of ‘Night Shift’ was going be so disbursed we didn’t know exactly when the show was going to air or where we’d be in August. We decided that they [the shows] would live in their own separate universes. The relationships are transferred; some of the people would be in ‘GH’ and refer to what’s happening in ‘Night Shift.’ As Jill [Farren Phelps] said at the panel, if there was a preemption everything would be knocked out anyway.”
Rosie O’Donnell left “The View” abruptly after contract negotiations and her battle with a co-host went too far. Are there any plans to help the talk-show keep its ratings inroads without the outspoken diva?
“We are going to have an announcement by the end of the month. Barbara [Walters] will make it.”
Any chance Sherri Sheppard (“Less Than Perfect”) could be part of the plan?
“General Hospital: Night Shift” airs Thursdays at 11:00 PM, EST/PST on SOAPnet and is a production of ABC Studios. Jill Farren Phelps serves as Executive Producer with Robert Guza Jr. as Head Writer.
- General Hospital: Night Shift
- The View
- Brian Frons