May sweeps are a month away, but it looks like the upcoming onscreen drama won’t be able to hold a candle to the real-life drama brewing between Prospect Park‘s “One Life to Live” and ABC’s “General Hospital.”
After Prospect Park’s plans to reboot both “OLTL” and “All My Children” for the web fell through in November 2011, the company was approached by ABC who was interested in transplanting the characters of Todd Manning, Starr Manning and John McBain to Port Charles as portrayed by their originators Roger Howarth, Kristen Alderson and Michael Easton. The understanding at the time between ABC and Prospect Park was that the characters would be utilized on “GH” until plans to reboot “OLTL” came back into play as Prospect Park didn’t want to hold the Llanview 3 from working. Since their debuts in Port Charles in early 2012, the characters have tested very high with both viewers and focus groups and have played a large role in the overall audience growth for “GH” compared to its 2011 performance in the Nielsen ratings. Unfortunately, things behind the scenes weren’t looking as good.
Despite Michael Easton‘s announcement early this morning, where he stated that after February 8th he would be exiting “General Hospital,” along with Roger Howarth and Kristen Alderson, due to “some ongoing legal this and that,” an ABC spokesperson tells Soap Opera Network that all three will remain an essential part of the “GH” canvas for the foreseeable future as the three are under contract with the network and not Prospect Park.
“‘General Hospital’ is excited about Michael Easton, Kristen Alderson and Roger Howarth staying on the show and we are exploring ways to allow that to happen,” read a statement from ABC, which did not provide further input on how the series would accomplish just that. Previously, the network stated, “There are on-going collaborative conversations,” in response to word that Prospect Park wanted to return the characters of Starr Manning (Alderson), Todd Manning (Howarth) and John McBain (Easton) to Llanview after formerly announcing it’s decision to re-launch “One Life to Live” later this spring. The production company licensed the rights to “OLTL’s” characters in July 2011 in a long-term distribution agreement between it and Disney/ABC Domestic Television, part of the Disney/ABC Television Group.
UPDATE 8:09 AM ET: In an update to his original Facebook message, Easton says that he wasn’t trying to “upset anybody” with his previously mentioned words, which had sparked outrage across social media networks from fans of the actor and character, who were upset to hear of his pending exit from “General Hospital.” The actor also says that the matter between Prospect Park and ABC may “take some time and some very bright people to resolve.”
Michael Easton Facebook Message Update
THANK YOU (PART TWO)
Didn’t mean to upset anybody, was just trying to address the birthday stuff. Honestly not sure what the future holds but I think it’s going to take some time and some very bright people to resolve it. Thank you again for all your kindness and support…
PREVIOUS: 2:19 AM ET: As previously reported, Michael Easton along with Kristen Alderson and Roger Howarth are currently at the center of a legal dispute between Prospect Park and Disney/ABC Domestic Television, part of the Disney/ABC Telvision Group, over who has the right to use the characters of John McBain (Easton), Starr Manning (Alderson) and Todd Manning (Howarth)). In one corner you have Prospect Park and “One Life to Live” and in the other you have ABC and “General Hospital.” Unfortunately for the fans, no one is “winning.” According to one of the affected actors, after Friday, February 8, they “cannot be at ‘General Hospital’” any longer.
As expected, ABC has issued an official statement on the matter of Starr Manning, Todd Manning and John McBain, characters currently being seen on the network’s “General Hospital,” as it pertains to the license of the characters originally from the soon to be rebooted “One Life to Live.”
According to a report by Daytime Confidential, ABC’s “General Hospital” will be temporarily losing the characters of Starr Manning, Todd Manning and John McBain as Prospect Park has exercised its right to utilize the characters for its online reboot from the agreement the production company signed with the Disney/ABC Domestic Television Group, part of the Walt Disney Company, back in July 2011.
UPDATE, THURSDAY, AUGUST 16 5:30 PM ET: A previous version of this article incorrectly included the line “Big Trouble at ‘Live! with Kelly?’” in its heading.
We apologize for the sensationalized heading, and have corrected it to include the core information. While “Live! with Kelly” did hit 20 year lows, which made that tidbit of information more noteworthy, it is one of the few daytime shows (talk or otherwise) to have been on the air as long.
Additionally, despite its lows, “Live!” was the third most watched talk show for the week. This in spite of the show losing 39 affiliated stations, representing 10% of the U.S.
In an interview with John Nogawski, president, CBS Television Distribution, Broadcasting & Cable revealed that Disney/ABC Domestic Television is spending roughly $80 million just to get its Katie Couric hosted talker, aptly named “Katie,” off the ground in the next couple of weeks.
“I think [Disney/ABC] cut a bad deal,” said Nogawski. “They did get very large license fees, but the majority of those license fees are attributed to ABC’s owned-and-operated stations. ['Katie'] is going to have to do a very large number for them to make money.” By comparison, CTD is spending roughly $30 million to launch “The Jeff Probst Show” ($24 million on production, $6 million on promotion).
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — On June 6, 2011, ABC finally announced (after months of rumors) that it had signed a deal with former “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric to host a new daily syndicated talk show, and that said show would replace veteran soap opera “General Hospital” in the 3:00 PM ET/2:00 PM PT/CT timeslot. Initially the decision brought fear to soap opera fans, who only two months prior learned that ABC Daytime’s two other veteran soaps (“All My Children” and “One Life to Live“) would be replaced by two new food and lifestyle centered talk shows (“The Chew” and “The Revolution“). Now nearly a year since the announcement it looks like Katie Couric may just be the lifesaver “General Hospital” desperately needs.
According to TV Guide‘s Michael Logan, sources have informed him that the talk show host and her executive producer (former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker) have expressed their concern to the Disney/ABC Television Group brass, producers of her new talk show, in regards to the poor ratings performance that has been “The Revolution” – Since the talk shows debut in January the program hovers at just over 1.5 million viewers on average. By comparison, “One Life to Live,” which “Revolution” replaced, averaged more than 2.3 million viewers on average and performed better in key sales demos during the same period of time on the year-ago. “Couric and Zucker want to see ’GH’ get that slot because it’s a stronger show, Nielsen-wise, plus Couric does not want to face the wrath of ‘GH’ fans and risk the chance they’ll organize a boycott. Who the hell needs that? So she and Zucker want ‘The Revolution’ to go bye-bye,” the website stated.
With “General Hospital’s” recent uptick in key demos and total viewers since the new dynamic duo of Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati (executive producer and head writer) debuted just a few short weeks ago, for the first time in over a year the soap finally has a fighting chance, but will ABC listen? “They may not have a choice,” said Logan. “In fact, they might even agree at this point. Our spies at Times Square Studios — the new tag for ABC Daytime — tell us the commitment to nonscripted shows remains firm in the ABC daypart but no one is doing handstands over the ones currently in development, which include a doctor show and a game show. While ABC technically has time (though not much) to replace ‘The Revolution’ with more reality, that option is looking way too chancy.”
Should ABC end up keeping “GH” on the air and canceling “The Revolution,” the soap will move to the 2:00 PM ET/1:00 PM CT/PT timeslot beginning in September. According to sources, a decision on the eventual outcome on either series will not be made until at least mid-April.
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(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — As previously reported, ABC soap opera “General Hospital” will lose its coveted 3:00 PM ET/2:00 PM CT/PT timeslot beginning in September 2012 when the network hands the hour back to its local affiliates. The move will leave ABC’s daytime lineup with just three hours left to program with “The View” already secured in the 11:00 AM ET/10:00 AM CT/PT slot. New talk shows “The Chew” and “The Revolution” will go head-to-head with “General Hospital” when it comes to the almighty dollar (ie. which show brings in enough income relative to cost) in a battle for the remaining two hours (1:00 PM ET/12:00 PM CT/PT; 2:00 PM ET/1:00 PM CT/PT). In place of “GH” beginning in September 2012 will be the new Disney/ABC Domestic Television syndicated series “Katie,” hosted by journalist Katie Couric, which was just cleared in over 60% of the country just six weeks after the sales period began.
Janice Marinelli, President, Disney/ABC Domestic Television announced via press release that “Katie” has been sold to a number of station broadcast groups including Allbritton Communications, Belo Corporation, Cox Media Group, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, LIN Broadcasting, McGraw-Hill, Scripps Howard Broadcasting and Young Broadcasting. The talk show was most recently picked up by ABC affiliates WFAA Dallas, WCVB Boston, WSB Atlanta, WJLA Washington DC, WXYZ Detroit, KNXV Phoenix, and WFTS Tampa along with NBC affiliate KING Seattle, among others.
“To have garnered such exceptional clearances in this short period of time is attributable to the enduring strength of the Katie Couric brand and her wide-ranging appeal as one of the brightest, most talented and most dynamic personalities in the business,” commented Marinelli. “We are enormously pleased to partner with such a stellar group of stations across the country.”
Upon announcing the shows development back in June, Disney/ABC Domestic Television also announced that ABC’s Owned & Operated Stations Group encompassing New York’s WABC, Los Angeles’ KABC, Chicago’s WLS, Philadelphia’s WPVI, San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose”s KGO, Houston’s KTRK, Durham/Raleigh/Fayetteville’s WTVD and Fresno’s KFSN would immediately begin carrying the show at launch.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Prospect Park continues to forge ahead with plans for their new Online Network in preparation of its January launch by signing a new deal with Universal Music Group. As part of deal, music from UMG‘s record and publishing companies will be featured in upcoming episodes of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” when the soaps transition to the new online venue early next year.
The agreement will also provide fans with an opportunity to purchase songs used in both shows, as well as access to exclusive online content. According to Prospect Park executives Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank, “As we continue to develop programming for our online network, we are taking every facet of production into consideration to create a premium product for our viewers. Previously these programs have not focused on, or had limited contemporary music and artist involvement, and through UMG we can deliver fans from around the world access to some of the world’s most popular music and artists all leading to better production, storylines and program experience.”
“This unique arrangement with ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ offers our artists and songwriters a special opportunity for exposure on two of the most iconic soap operas ever. The online network for the programs is an exciting new vehicle for consumers to connect with our artists and their work, and purchase music seamlessly as they hear it on each episode. We look forward to working with Prospect to bring the best music to our shows’ fans,” UMG President & COO, Zach Horowitz stated in a press release.
Prospect Park secured the the rights to “AMC” and “OLTL” from the Disney/ABC Domestic Television Group back in July, as part of a multi-year, multi-platform licensing agreement. Both shows are expected to begin airing on The Online Network (TOLN) in mid-January.