Wednesday, February 28, 2007

B&B Down Under: Moss and Lang in Gay Mardi Gras Flap

More from behind the scenes at THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL's Australia remote:

"THE organisers of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras have been accused of undermining international publicity for the parade after initially refusing to allow visiting US soap stars Ronn Moss and Katherine Kelly Lang to be involved.

As their Sydney stopover coincided with Mardi Gras, the duo from hit series The Bold And The Beautiful were keen to fly the pink flag aboard a float during the weekend's parade...[but] the concept became too difficult to orchestrate after Mardi Gras chiefs demanded to know exactly how the heterosexual pair had previously contributed to the gay and lesbian community.

'It had huge potential for worldwide publicity and they initially issued a flat out no,' a frustrated Mardi Gras insider told Confidential yesterday. 'Do they want high-profile people to get involved...or to end up with just a bunch of feral hippies carrying placards?'

Mardi Gras creative director Graham Browning said Moss and Lang's involvement in the parade was "eventually given the green light" but had ended up clashing with their filming commitments for the soap...."

(read the whole story here)

"Rain Adds Drama to [B&B]'s Sydney Shoot"

From The West Australian:

"Melodrama, controversy and an unreal sense of optimism are trademarks of a successful [U.S.] TV soap opera. In Sydney, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, possibly the biggest of them all, lived up to that billing.

Violent weather threatened the two-day Sydney shoot scheduled for the American soap but supervising producer Rhonda Friedman said the weather had added drama to the scenes.

"The action is getting a bit stormy in these scenes so I think it's going to look great, I think it's going to add to the romance," Friedman said.
(click here to read the full story)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Playbill's Photo Call from "ABC Daytime Salutes Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS" Concert

Click here for a series of headshots (primarily of ABC soap stars) from this year's "ABC Daytime Salutes Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS" from Playbill online.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Nielsen's Change, Soaps Benefit (too little, too late?) /and/ GUIDING LIGHT's Internet Innovation Honors Irna Phillips Legacy

Two stories appearing in Variety (all published recently, but before the launch this weekend) are definitely worth a read...

1 - In "College Campuses Boost Ratings," Rick Kissell reports on a key Nielsen methodology change that is poised to make a seismic shift in the soap ratings game:

"Nielsen has taken its ratings game to college campuses for the first time, and the early results are good news for young-skewing programs....[and] a few daytime soap operas have been big beneficiaries." Looking at the first week that Nielsen included viewing estimates of students living away from home:

DAYS OF OUR LIVES and PASSIONS shot up by more than 30% week to week among adults 18-24.

PASSIONS was the biggest gainer, with gains among women 18-24 of 39% (to 223,000 from 160,000). This translated into a 16% change in the program's core sales demo of adults 18-34.

DAYS shot up 33% in women 18-24 (231,000 from 174,000) and grew by 20% -- the most of any show -- in the broader 18-34 category (582,000 from 490,000).

GENERAL HOSPITAL and GUIDING LIGHT each climbed more than 20%

GL sister show AS THE WORLD TURNS also benefited from methodology change.

Notably, overall ratings leader, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS was not among the demo gainers.

Kissell: "A boost in Nielsen ratings -- especially among young adults -- means increased advertising revenue [and] could make the difference between cancellation or survival. It looks to be too late for PASSIONS, as the 8-year-old show announced last month that it will
shut down later this year. But if DAYS continues to rise, it may be able to quell talk that it will end its lengthy run in 2009 when its contract with NBC is up."

2 - In "''Light' Shines in New Media: Soap's move to podcasts, Internet reflects growing trends," Michael Maloney explores GUIDING LIGHT's use of new media and GL's long history as an embracer of new platforms.

Some highlights:

"Today, fans can go to to access the show as a daily podcast and listen to 'Guiding Light Lite,' which features commentary from show personnel. Also, key episodes that are preempted due to breaking news can find a new home on the Eye's Innertube site.

Barbara Bloom, CBS Daytime SVP: "Ellen( Wheeler, [GL's] executive producer) is extraordinary about being proactive and aggressive about getting her stories out on as many platforms as possible at a time when CBS is looking to extend the reach of its shows. It's been a terrific convergence of the right people and the right places."

"[GL] has a track record of transitioning to new platforms. Back in the early 1950s, the soap moved from radio to television....historian Christopher Schemering wrote in a 1986 book that "Television had everyone worried, except (show creator) Irna Phillips. She was determined to make serials work in the new medium."

Wheeler: "With Irna as such a good example as someone who was willing to take her show
from radio to television, why wouldn't I (embrace new media)? I think Irna expects us to do this because she saw that 'Guiding Light' was about showing struggles and how people overcame them.

Brian Cahill, a vice president at Procter & Gamble Productions: "As we saw the media landscape changing, it was second nature for us to think: How do we reach our audience now?
Soon after we made the podcast available, we got an email from a woman in her 60s who's watched 'Guiding Light' all of her life. One day, her DVR failed and she was so happy she could get the podcast and listen to it on her iPod. I was happy that we'd made our content available, and that email shattered so many stereotypes about who's using this
technology. We love how limitless it is."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Georgia lawmaker: High cable bills? Blame SoapNet!

A fun exchange from a Georgia lawmaker's town-hall:

This legislative session, Clay Cox has become an expert in two areas. 'All I know about anymore is cable television and payday lending,' the Republican legislator from Lilburn told a crowd at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce on Friday.But Cox’s wife, Alisa, added another subject to the list after the meeting: the soap opera GENERAL HOSPITAL.

Cox jokingly blamed his high cable rate on his wife’s affinity for SoapNet when discussing a bill that would allow cable companies to franchise with the state instead of individual cities or counties. 'It costs me $100 for television that used to be free,” Cox said. 'The result of this bill, I believe, is lower cable rates.”

After the meeting Alisa Cox said her husband shouldn’t pass the buck. He’s just as big a fan of the soap opera — a show they TiVo and watch together — as she is. Admitted the state representative, 'I’ve got to have GENERAL HOSPITAL.'

Saturday, February 24, 2007

SoapNet: Viewers will "interact with GH like never before"

SoapNet and GENERAL HOSPITAL are promising an unprecedented interactive experience this weekend as part of the show's weekly replay block. The net's promotional materials encourage viewers to "Talk about General Hospital with fans across the country...[and] text in questions, comments, and shout outs throughout the 5 hour marathon using your mobile phone."

The web advertisement has all the details and includes a video from the portrayer of GH's resident computer geek, Bradford Anderson ("Damien Spinelli"). Though NBC (PASSIONS, in particular) is the daytime leader in interactive content, SoapNet has been experimenting with a variety of new interactive tie-ins for its web visitors and viewers. If you haven't visited SoapNet's innovative "Fantasy Soap League" you can do so by clicking here.

Friday, February 23, 2007

GH's Greg Vaughan takes golden "Road to the Oscars"

In honor of this weekend's festivities, and the increasing trend of a heightened media cross-presence for current soap stars, let me draw your attention to's "Road to the Oscars" feature, with multi-media content co-hosted by GENERAL HOSPITAL star, and "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" pitchman, Greg Vaughan ("Lucky Spencer").

[While the logic of hiring Vaughan at, bringing a Kelly Monaco ("Sam McCall," GH) onto Dancing with the Stars, or asking Alison Sweeney ("Sami Brady," DAYS) to host The Biggest Loser, is clearly in the expectation they will bring loyal soap fans along, the chance that this trend may bring a few more eyeballs to daytime, as well, is likely worth the efforts required for a show to work around a multi-tasking star's schedule.]

The site:

AMC's Havins and's Coleridge tackle uncomfortable soap paradox

A new soap star Q&A with's Daniel Coleridge features an interesting touch on the industry's mixed messages regarding the treatment of women. ALL MY CHILDREN star Alexa Havins ("Babe Carey Chandler") is currently in a popular pairing with Jacob Young ("J.R. Chandler"), despite the fact that the alcoholic J.R. frequenly subjects Havin's character to verbal abuse, and has plotted to kill her.

Coleridge, also author of The Q Guide to Soap Operas, points out that in a separate, more issue-oriented story, AMC clearly condemned domestic violence, but wonders why the show appears so supportive of the similary abusive J.R./Babe coupling. Havins notes that despite the presence of a white-knight alternate suitor for Babe (and an equally chivalrous ex), the fan base remains solid for J.R./Babe.

ABC in particular, has seen the unpredictable rise of "anti-leading" men, including two wildly popular characters with rapist pasts: Anthony Geary's "Luke Spencer" on GENERAL HOSPITAL and Roger Howarth (later Trevor St. John)'s "Todd Manning" on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. Is it the appeal (or at least promise) of "redemption via a good woman's love" or the age-old affinity for the "bad boy," that draws the primarily female core audience to these characters so strongly, despite their prior violation of women? Even with the standard suspension of disbelief required for soap viewing, it's a difficult paradox. (Uncomfortability with the paradox is rumored to be one of the reasons Howarth jumped ship from OLTL to AS THE WORLD TURNS earlier in the decade.)

Havins mentions that she checked into the possibility of accompanying the story with a PSA message on domestic violence, an idea ultimately rejected by the show's brass.

ABC announces soap-free DANCING WITH THE STARS

This week, ABC announced the celebrity line-up for the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars and for the first time in four seasons, the contestant roster will not feature a soap star among their ranks. Previous seasons have featured GENERAL HOSPITAL's Kelly Monaco ("Sam McCall," ex-"Livvie Locke, PORT CHARLES), the first season winner, DAYS OF OUR LIVES star (and SoapNet host) Lisa Rinna (ex-"Billie Reed"), and Saved by the Bell's Mario Lopez (under contract as "Dr. Christian Ramirez" at the time of his selection for Dancing).

While the season's likely surefire inspirational favorite, Heather Mills McCartney (an amputee who will compete using a prosthetic leg), did play herself on DAYS in a one day appearance to counsel Kyle Brandt's "Philip Kirakis" (a core character who lost a leg serving in Iraq), one can't help but wonder if message board protests--and several comments by first season runner-up John O'Hurley--that the passionate loyalty of soap opera fans led to block voting and disproportionate success by Monaco and Lopez (Rinna did not make it to the final dance-off) was a factor. [Monaco countered the accusation on CNN's Larry King Live, pointing out that while GH averages 3 million or so viewers, O'Hurley is best known for Seinfeld, which consistently drew 5 or more times GH's numbers and has a passionate fan base of its own.]

Alas, another possibility is that, having utilized soap talent to lure a core base of fans for what was initially an uncertain proposition, the Dancing brass has decided they no longer need the soap community and have decided to look beyond the "soap level" for their celebrities. If so, that would be a shame...

TVWeek looks at year's highly competitive Daytime Emmy field

Writing for Television Week, Allison J. Waldman takes a look at potential contenders for the upcoming Daytime Emmy nominations, noting that across the board (and networks) quality in 2006 makes the field as competitive as it has been in years.

Waldman speaks to ABC-Daytime president Brian Frons, SoapNet Executive VP and GM Deborah Blackwell, and's Daniel Coleridge, who offer their perspectives on the year's possibilities.

The article does not address the ongoing pre-nomination controversies, but does mention the fact that the pre-nomination procedure leaves some of the year's most acclaimed actors, like Eric Braeden of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS, ineligible for a nomination.

The article:

DAYS's Sweeney to pull double duty as reality host

An NBC-Universal press release notes that DAYS OF OUR LIVES star Alison Sweeney ("Sami Brady") will replace actress/comedienne Caroline Rhea as host of the fourth season of the network's reality show The Biggest Loser.

The release specifically notes the passion and loyalty of Sweeney's soap fan base as a factor in the decision to replace Rhea with Sweeney, with the network clearly hoping to benefit from new sampling of Loser by soap opera fans.

Sweeney blogs about her new role on her NBC blog, noting that her hosting duties will correspond with an increasingly complex story for Sami.

Update: In an interesting note, Sweeney tells Soap Opera Digest that Loser will be scheduling around the DAYS schedule and not vice-versa, "They have agreed to work around my DAYS schedule,'s not going to change my shooting schedule or my DAYS storyline." Sounds like a welcome measure of accomodation by NBC and Loser for the daytime medium, star, and fan-base they hope to mine for new viewers. Is it a small, but good sign for DAYS future prospects?

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