Saturday, March 31, 2007

GH's Monaco Joins FOOTBALL WIVES in First Use of New Contract Flexibility

The loss or gain (or return) of a major star is a surefire way to gamble with the ratings, and network and show execs have been criticized in the past for being particularly unwilling to work with hot, young actors tempted by outside projects. (GENERAL HOSPITAL is famously rumored to have sealed the end-of-contract departure of Jacob Young--then GH's "Lucky Spencer," now ALL MY CHILDREN's "J.R. Chandler"--when they refused to allow him to take a role the Renny Harlin-Sylvester Stallone film Driven.)

That is why many observers were surprised when ABC Daytime and GH were able to come to terms with a clearly happy Kelly Monaco ("Samantha McCall," ex-"Livvie Locke Morley," PORT CHARLES). Though the negotiations went down to the wire, Monaco--a ripe candidate for daytime departure if there ever was one (after raising her profile considerably by winning the first season of the breakout hit Dancing with the Stars)--declared that the show had given her unprecedented flexibility in exchange for ABC having exclusive rights to any prime-time "branching" she might seek to do.

The details were vague, and rumors had Monaco reporting to the set of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES for work seemingly every week (she wasn't). It now turns out that fate had an entirely different ABC nighttime soap in mind for Monaco: the highly anticipated, star-heavy British import FOOTBALL WIVES (based on the British hit soap Footballer's Wives). Monaco will be a featured guest star (hello, Heather Locklear!) for an undetermined amount of episodes, joining a cast that already includes Lucy Lawless, DAWSON'S CREEK's James Van DerBeek, SUNSET BEACH and Third Watch's Eddie Cibrian, real football wife Holly Robinson Peete of 21 Jump Street, and film star Ving Rhames, among others.

And what about GH? Despite Monaco's "Sam" being played in very heavy story, the show has let her out as required without objection. While a temporary recast was considered, GH decided to shoot around Monaco's schedule instead, confirming that the flexibility built into Monaco's contract by ABC is indeed extensive.

Should the experiment work, it may serve as a model for future contract renewals with breakout stars, allowing soaps to keep much needed (and significantly happier, no doubt) fan favorites, while allowing said favorites the chance to do the kind of outside projects that will not only serve their careers, but might also make new fans willing to follow them back to their "day job." Sounds like a win-win to me...if a potentially more complicated one.

College Viewers Continue to Deliver for Soaps Under New Ratings System

Soappipe has already explored how better measurement techniques by Nielsen Media Research of college students has revealed significantly greater viewership for daytime soaps (including NBC's PASSIONS and CBS's GUIDING LIGHT), boosting ratings in what was seen as a long-overdue move (and sadly, one made after the decision was made to cancel PASSIONS) to fully capture the viewing habits of young adults--often considered the key demo by advertisers.

In his MediaWeek piece "ABC Benefits From Out-of-Home College Viewers," writer John Consoli notes how the change is affecting the prime-time landscape (and clearly benefiting nighttime soaps like GREY'S ANATOMY and UGLY BETTY, and satisfactorily solving the mystery of why the seemingly lagging Anne Heche vehicle MEN IN TREES snagged a much coveted early renewal from the network.)

"MARCH 29, 2007 - ABC ratings have benefited more than any other broadcast network in prime time from Nielsen Media Research's new measurement of out-of-home viewing by college students,according to an analysis by media agency Magna Global USA. And, ironically, The CW, with the youngest median age, had the second to the fewest number of shows among the Top 20 which benefited most.

According to the Magna analysis, ABC Thursday night drama Grey's Anatomy has gained three rating points among the
18-24-year-old demo group, from a 6.0 to a 9.1, and that has boosted its rating by one rating point in the overall adult 18-49 demo group, since Nielsen began measuring out of home college viewing in January. ABC's other Thursday night dramas Ugly Betty and Men in Trees have also gained among the 18-24 audience, off lower bases.

Betty rose from a pre-college out of home measurement 18-24 rating
of 2.4 to a post measurement rating of 3.7,
a gain of 56 percent, while Trees went from a 1.4 to a 3.3, a gain of 140 percent."

Read the full article here.

Read earlier article Nielsen's Change, Soaps Benefit.

GL Stars Bring Full Hearts, Willing Hands to Norfolk, Virginia

GUIDING LIGHT stars Frank Dicopoulos ("Frank Cooper"), John Driscoll ("Henry 'Coop' Bradshaw") and Nicole Forester ("Cassie Winslow," pictured), will be in Norfolk, Virginia, this morning to donate their efforts as volunteers at Haven House, a local homeless shelter. The appearance will coincide (and hopefully help to promote) a major renovation for the shelter where volunteers will include painting, cleaning, landscaping and restoration of common areas.


The appearance is the latest in a series of public and community service efforts by GL stars in support of the GL "Find Your Light" initiative which encourages good works as a means of celebrating GL's 70th year of radio and television broadcast. For more information on "Find Your Light" and the milestone anniversary, visit www.findyourlight.net.

Videos, pictures, and a description of the GL cast's recent "Find Your Light" efforts to help rebuild the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast area, click here (it starts about 1/3 of the way down the page).

Friday, March 30, 2007

SHOWTIME Premieres 'Sixteenth-Century Soap Opera' with Film Star Rhys-Meyers

Period-soap fans mourning the series close of HBO's sumptuous ROME, need cry no longer. This Sunday, Showtime premeires THE TUDORS, what network president Robert Greenblatt has already declared to be one of the net's "great soap opera[s]."


While Showtime has been a pioneer in the nighttime serial field with the groundbreaking QUEER AS FOLK and THE L WORD, Tudors follows a more traditional, bodice-ripping, path, and stars Irish film star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as a younger, fitter version of the ambitious and oft ill-tempered Henry VIII, with Sam Neil, Jeremy Northam, and Gabrielle Anwar in key supporting roles.

Here is the full text of a recent show profile by Bill Higgins:

"Showtime touts Tudors"
Show acts as sixteenth century soap opera

HOLLYWOOD -- Sixteenth century love, war and really well-embroidered costumes drew an overflow turnout to the Egyptian for Monday's screening of Showtime's The Tudors.

It's not often that a TV miniseries screening requires a second theater, or a Les Deux Cafe after-party needs overflow rooms, but such was the draw of [Rhys-Meyers] as a bare-chested, oversexed Henry VIII.

Key to the show's success, said Showtime [president] Robert Greenblatt, is that it's "a great soap opera."

"It's got sex, intrigue and dysfunctional families," said Greenblatt. "In fact, it's the original dysfunctional family -- nothing changes in 500 years. And who doesn't want to dress up like that?"

'Variety' Trio of Articles Focuses on B&B Dynasties on AND off-screen

Variety writer Michael Maloney recently contributed three soap opera-themed pieces, centered primarily around THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL's 20th Anniversary earlier this month.

[1] In "
Bell Family Into Soap-Opera Business (Daytime dramas offer domestic bliss for clan)" Maloney profiles the family of William J. and Lee Phillip Bell (co-creators of B&B and THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS), including children Lauralee Bell Martin (ex-"Christine Blair Williams" on Y&R), William Bell (president, Bell-Phillip Television, producers of Y&R and B&B), and Bradley Bell (executive producer and head writer of B&B):


William J. Bell brought to life the Newmans, Abbotts and Fosters
on [Y&R] and the Forrester, Logan and Spectra gangs on
[B&B], but the daytime guru's greatest family was always his own....the senior Bell passed away in April 2005, but his wife and children continue his legacy as driving forces in the daytime community....
Read the full article here.

[2] In "'
[B&B] Foursome Thrive on Stability (Soap's cast consistency brings believability)," Maloney focuses on the soap's four remaining original cast members, Susan Flannery, John McCook, Katherine Kelly Lang, and Ronn Moss, and the impact their playing their core characters continuously (not counting temporary replacements for illnesss, etc.) for 20 years, has on the globally popular show.

Television audiences are acquainted with both Darrens on Bewitched and a pair of Beckys on Roseanne, but for 20 years (a rare fill-in or two aside), soap opera loyalists have known only singular versions of core
characters Stephanie, Eric, Brooke and Ridge on [B&B], thanks to the
commitments of their respective portrayers.
Read the full article here.

[3] And in "
[B&B] Won't Eschew Issues (Soap mixes entertainment, education)," Maloney profiles Lee Phillip Bell's historical commitment, both as a journalist and soap opera creator/story consultant, to social issues, and how that legacy has continued on B&B, highlighting Stephanie Forrester (portrayed by Susan Flannery)'s homelessness storyline among others tackling alcoholism, rape, and child abuse.

Successfully combining entertainment with education isn't easy, but [B&B] sparked by co-creators Lee Phillip Bell and the late William J. Bell, has accomplished just that during its 20-year run.
Read the full article here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

HEROES: Coming to a Phone Near You

From Yahoo! Biz: "Gameloft and NBC Universal Enter Worldwide Agreement to Bring The #1 Television Drama Series 'Heroes' to Mobile Phones." Read it here.

AMC Takes Home GLAAD Media Honors

ABC's ALL MY CHILDREN was honored at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in New York last night, for "their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives."

AMC, which faced competition from AS THE WORLD TURNS, GENERAL HOSPITAL, and PASSIONS, likely edged out the competition with its groundbreaking story of a transgender rock star, portrayed by Jeffrey Carlson. (Could this bode well for PASSIONS, and its similarly groundbreaking "down low" storyline next year?)

GLAAD describes itself as "dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation." Last night's ceremony in NYC saw the presentation 26 of this year's 42 media categories. Additional awards will be presented in Los Angeles on April 14, in San Francisco on April 28, and in South Florida on May 10.


More information on the GLAAD Media Awards, including a full list of nominees, categories, and information on upcoming ceremonies, can be found here.

How Branson, Mo. Courted ATWT

More on the AS THE WORLD TURNS remote shoot in Branson, MO. Read it here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

When the Drama at the Daytime Emmys Isn't On-Screen...

Michael Schneider of Variety reports on a West Coast vs. East Coast Daytime Emmy battle that is producing drama enough to rival the best of the soaps the awards are set to honor:

“Yet another battle is brewing in the West Coast vs. East Coast TV Academy smackdown.

The New York-based National Academy of TV Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which runs the Daytime Emmys, has announced that it will pay for only one statuette per category winner this year, meaning that those who share a victory would have to shell out $350 apiece for their own statuettes.

But the West Coast-based Academy of TV Arts & Sciences (ATAS) -- even though it doesn't administer the Daytime Emmys -- plans to dig into its own pockets and reimburse any West Coast winners who are asked to pay for their statuette.

NATAS [president] Peter Price [said that] with nonprofits…facing increased financial woes, the group could no longer pay for so many statuettes.

‘We're a nonprofit, and our trustees mandate that we produce a breakeven budget. To do that, we have to pull in our horns on some luxuries we used to do. If ATAS feels that they have the deep pockets to do it, then that's wonderful.’

In a letter sent over the weekend to ATAS members who are also Daytime Emmy nominees, the West Coast group took issue with NATAS' belt-tightening.

‘The Los Angeles-based Television Academy wants you to know that, as a matter of principle, we do not agree with this decision and do not believe that any Emmy winner should have to pay for their award,’ the letter read.

ATAS recommends that winners who must pay for their Daytime Emmy statue go ahead and send the money to NATAS; ATAS will then arrange to reimburse the winner.

The two TV academies had worked more closely in recent years on the Daytime Emmys, but ATAS has been less involved this year. Unlike in past years, NATAS did not consult ATAS on the nomination process; also, ATAS will not produce or pay for this year's nontelevised Daytime Emmy Creative Arts Awards, which had been covered by the West Coast [organization] in past years.

ATAS and NATAS have battled off and on since the TV Academy split into two separate orgs in 1977.”

Read the full article here.

Additional Serials Tapped for Early Renewal by Networks

Though its future had been in question, FOX's twisty prison serial PRISON BREAK, starring Wentworth Miller, has been selected for early renewal, along with episodic dramas HOUSE and BONES.

Additionally, NBC has renewed freshman serial HEROES, though the supernatural soap's combination of high ratings and buzz had essentially guaranteed its return.

(More on the expansive list of early renewals handed out by ABC earlier this month here.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Y&R!

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS turns 34 today. Y&R premiered on March 26, 1973, with a distinctive visual and musical "signature" and a new focus on storylines geared to younger audiences. Created by the late William J. Bell and his wife, Lee Phillip Bell, Y&R has been number one in overall viewers for more than 18 years.

Soaps' New Media Ventures: Coming of Age?

Business Week asks, "Can producing soap operas for online viewers breathe new life into daytime programming?" in Tom Lowry's piece 'As The World Wide Web Turns':

In late February, CBS launched a Web-only soap opera called L.A. DIARIES it hopes will attract young women. The nine episodes are
streamed for about six minutes a pop on the network's
innertube.com site.

The action centers on "Amber [Moore Forrester," portrayed by Adrienne Frantz], an existing character on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, and on "Alison [Stewart," portrayed by Marnie Schulenburg], a new character who emerged from the cyberspace soap on Mar. 21 to play an actual role on TV in AS THE WORLD TURNS [Soappipe editor's note: "Alison" is actually a long-running character on ATWT, recently recast and reintroduced via Diaries].

It's a fresh approach to creating buzz for a TV staple, and other network executives will be watching closely. Rival networks are trying to get kids to watch old daytime melodramas such as GENERAL HOSPITAL and DAYS OF OUR LIVES, shows their mothers or grandmothers might have watched.

Few genres have demonstrated more staying power than the soap opera. More than half a century after first airing alongside the detergent commercials that gave them their name, soaps still captivate millions of mostly women fans. No matter how preposterous the dialogue or cheesy the plot lines, soaps have, in modern parlance, a "stickiness" that many prime-time dramas can only hope to achieve.

Characters like newspaper publisher "Victoria Lord Davidson" [portrayed by Erika Slezak] of ONE LIFE TO LIVE (who made her debut on the show in 1968) have been on the tube for so long that they can seem like old friends. "I feel I really know them," says Antonella Cahill, a 40-year-old Philadelphia secretary and soap fan who named one daughter after the scheming "Nikki Newman" [portrayed by Melanie Thomas Scott] of Y&R and the other after GH's "Tiffany Hill" (who married and left beloved Port Charles years ago).

Even better, as far as soap fans are concerned, the networks don't stint on new episodes; last year, ABC rolled out 251 new GH episodes vs. 23 new DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES shows.

But even as the shows' stars age gracefully (cue makeup, soft focus, and cosmetic surgery), there is no hiding the graying of their fans.
There are new plot devices and characters--a teen girl's right to choose, for one--calculated to appeal to young women. Even so, most soap devotees are well over 50. Meanwhile, over the past decade, viewership has fallen 35%, to 30 million viewers a day. Hence the networks' eagerness to reimagine the soaps for a new generation.


It goes without saying that the Web is where the action is, but so far the networks haven't been able to win the digital rights to put them on their own sites. Until ABC, NBC, and CBS hammer out a deal with the production companies that make the soaps, few will be available to download or stream. [Soappipe editor's Note: NBC streams PASSIONS daily on NBC.com.]

There's plenty of upside in getting the deals done. Media consultant Tom Wolzien figures there are more than 20 million women in the workplace with broadband access. So streaming shows live to computers could double the potential audience for soaps. If you got just 5% of those working women to watch, Wolzien calculates, the networks could reap an extra $230 million a year in advertising.

In the meantime, the networks are taking baby steps online. SoapNet, the Walt Disney Co.-owned channel that shows soaps at night for working women, sponsors online soap fantasy leagues. Participants rack up points when characters they have picked for their team take off their shirts, say, or switch the paternity-test results. Still,
the players number less than 30,000. The channel is also asking college kids to create their own soaps and put them to the vote at soapnet.com. Even CBS's GUIDING LIGHT is getting in on the act, podcasting the show, which began life on radio in 1937.
[Soappipe editor's note: ATWT also is available as a streaming podcast each day.]

If the soap opera is to be around for another half-century, the networks will have to make converts of a generation with a thousand more entertainment choices than their grandmothers.

"The constant," says Barbara Bloom, senior vice-president for daytime programming at CBS, "is making viewers always feel emotionally involved in the story."

Hundreds of NYC Hopefuls: 'I Wanna Be a Soap Star'

From WNBC.com:

"Do you want to be a soap opera star? Apparently hundreds in the New York City area do.

They flocked to the Upper West Side Saturday for the open casting call of SoapNet's reality series I WANNA BE A SOAP STAR....[which] will feature 10 aspiring actors living full-time on soap opera sets--all trying to win a 13-week role on NBC's DAYS OF OUR LIVES."

Auditions were held on the set of THE VIEW, and followed a similar open call in Miami, Florida, a week prior. The show will hold one more open call, next week, at Prospect Studios in Los Angeles, home of GENERAL HOSPITAL and GREY'S ANATOMY, with callbacks set for April 1 (more). The show is hosted by ALL MY CHILDREN star Cameron Mathison.

NBC, FOX Announce Deal With Internet Leaders AOL, Yahoo! To Create Online Video Site

Proposed venture set to rival YouTube.com, and be eventual web home for NBC and FOX programming (short- and long-form content), including current NBC serials. More details here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Happy 20th Birthday to THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL!

On March 23, 1987, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL premiered on CBS, as a 1/2 hour companion soap to THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS (with whom it has shared numerous characters over the years). Set in the glamorous world of the Los Angeles fashion industry, the series marks its 20th anniversary today, having garnered critical accolades, including over 35 Daytime Emmy Awards, and achieved worldwide popularity.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Multiple Serials Get Early Renewal from ABC

ABC announced more early series pick-ups for the 2007-08 season, including most of their serials. Already renewed for next year are UGLY BETTY, BROTHERS & SISTERS, MEN IN TREES (starring ANOTHER WORLD supernova Anne Heche, pictured), DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, GREY'S ANATOMY, and LOST.


“We have had a strong year, with two of the season’s breakout hits, UGLY BETTY and BROTHERS & SISTERS and the solid performance of MEN IN TREES,” said ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson. “We are pleased that viewers have invested in these new favorites along with our other returning series. These shows provide us with a substantial foundation to make 2007-08 our best schedule yet.”

Also renewed are Boston Legal, The Bachelor, Dancing With the Stars, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Jimmy Kimmel Live, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Supernanny and Wife Swap.
No comedy renewals have been announced yet.

ABC's Frons: "Do you say to a woman ‘I’m going to divorce you in two years’ and expect them to still sleep with you?"

Anne Becker of Broadcasting & Cable talked to Brian Frons, President of Daytime for the Disney-ABC TV Group, resulting in some very revealing observations on ABC Soaps, SoapNet, and more (including whether ABC would buy a cancelled DAYS OF OUR LIVES):


On GH’s Sweeps Performance: “GENERAL HOSPITAL took a very unique creative approach and the audience….went, ‘wow, we have never seen that before.’ GH led in every major female demographic from teens, 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 women [and] that’s the first time GH has ever done that and the second time I think it’s ever been done that at all.”


On the Daytime Emmy Nominations: “If I had a disappointment it would be that GH did not get a nod for best show and it’s interesting because the writing was nominated, Tony Geary, Genie Francis and Julie Berman were featured in the November episode the show submitted for best show and were all recognized and so was the director somehow the show wasn’t.”


“I’m very pleased particularly for ONE LIFE TO LIVE...It’s OLTL first Best Show nomination since Frank Valentini took over in early 2003.“

On the Cancellation of PASSIONS: “[PASSIONS] was a show that had a strong heartbeat a few years ago, they went from being a very young-targeted show to trying to spread their demographic to going back to who they were and I think they lost some people in the zigging and zagging and it cost them.“

On a Possible DAYS Cancellation: “NBC…has had the weakest commitment to daytime historically. When Jeff Zucker announced that DAYS may go away in 2009, you can track the ratings from that point and see they probably lost 25% of their audience on NBC Daytime...do you think you can turn to a woman and say, ‘I’m going to divorce you in two years’ and expect them to still sleep with you? I say no. So, they sort of broke the contract and I think it’s the opposite for us.”

On whether ABC would buy a cancelled DAYS: "The success of ABC soaps on ABC would really prevent us from picking up DAYS for ABC and I don’t know that when the time comes for DAYS and NBC to part ways that we’ll have an economic model that will make it practical to put on SoapNet. Otherwise, I would certainly consider it."

On Future Plans for SoapNet: “We have two shows in development now in the reality soap genre - a la Laguna Beach and The Real Housewives of Orange County [and] we bought ONE TREE HILL and THE OC. SoapNet really needs to be a channel that stays contemporary in terms of delivering all soap experiences to the consumer.”

On MyNetworkTV’s failed telenovela slate: “They went into time periods and stations that were not in the soap opera business in daytime or primetime so I think the soap opera audience was not looking to those channels for soaps. To get a soap opera audience, you really have to spend some time with them, give them a chance to sample the product, and have the patience for them to get caught up in it. Unlike traditional novelas, which can last six months to a year, these were only 13 weeks. Almost by time you figured out who everybody was, it was over and that may have been a stumbling block to them.”

On AMC’s “risk taking” and the current transgender storyline: “Part of the audience is passionately approving what we’re doing and there’s a portion that aren’t embracing it with the same excitement. That story was conceived with a finite ending. We wanted to introduce the character and explore the issue and create a relationship with Zoey and Bianca and we’ve had a chance to do that. The storyline will be over by end of April.“

On the Firing (and Potential Re-Hiring) of former AMC Headwriter Megan McTavish: “Megan was somebody who took great risks and was innovative yet at the same time very true to the heart and soul of ALL MY CHILDREN. Turning out 250 hours of television a year was a grind and she had been doing it for a while. I’ve actually told her that after she takes a little time off, I would be more than happy to hire her as a story consultant."
(read the full interview, and Frons's take on Rosie O'Donnell and The View, here)

DAYS Wedding: Not Just Green, It's Interactive

Beginning this week, through April 14, fans of NBC's DAYS OF OUR LIVES can vote online at NBC.com/days to help select the special gifts that Sami Brady (Allison Sweeney) will receive from her family and friends on her wedding day.

DAYS fans have the unique opportunity to be part of Sami's wedding by voting multiple times for their favorite elements that will be incorporated into her "green wedding" by logging onto NBC.com/days.

Over the next few weeks, viewers will be able to choose from the following categories once a week: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...and in a unique twist to tie in with Sami's "green wedding" her friends and family will get her something green!

The special items that are chosen by viewers will be given as gifts by Sami's friends and relatives on-screen: Something old from Caroline (Peggy McCay), something new from Hope (Kristian Alfonso), something borrowed from Marlena (Deidre Hall), something blue from Chelsea (Rachel Melvin) and something green from Kayla (Mary Beth Evans). And, all the gifts will be eco-friendly and fans will get to see their choices on air.

Television & Diversity: Progress (and the lack thereof)

A pair of excellent stories in The Morning Call on race, diversity, and interracial relationships on-screen focus on nighttime dramas, but could easily apply to the advances (and lack thereof) on daytime today (click on the titles to read the full stories):

Interracial Romances Flourishing on TV with Little Fanfare

and

Diversity on TV Up, but Stars, Producers, Writers Still Mostly White

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

NBC Sending PASSIONS Into Space?

TVGuide.com soaps editor (and Q Guide to Soap Operas author) Daniel Coleridge is first to reort some great scoop that could be great news for fans of the recently canceled NBC soap PASSIONS.

Coleridge reports NBC has entered talks with DIRECTV to move PASSIONS to the satellite TV provider when the sudser concludes it's run on September 7, 2007.

Though such a transfer would be a first for daytime, the idea is not farfetched. Shortly after NBC announced the PASSIONS cancellation, NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly told reporters that the net was "going to be looking very, very seriously at keeping [PASSIONS] alive....there are loyal viewers of this show who love it and show up every day. And in a perfect world, we'd like to keep the brand alive. There may be another network. You know, I don't think it's a broadcast network, but there may be another cable network that wants to get in business with us and have some sort of on-air presence for the show."

(read Coleridge's full report here)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Writer McFarland Handicaps Primetime Faves Ripe for Cancellation

In her article, Spring Can Be the Cruelest Season for Favorite Shows, Melanie McFarland of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer handicaps the mid-season status of primetime network shows in the cancellation crosshairs, including several serials.

Including each net's point-of-contact information for the action oriented, MacFarland runs down her list, which includes:

CBS: JERICHO

"Proving how fickle fortune and audiences can be, the post-apocalyptic drama had momentum and buzz on its side last fall, only to be crushed by American Idol when it returned in February. CBS could move it, but finding a suitable fit is going to be problematic. Besides, why shift JERICHO if replacing it with a show potent enough to fend off the Idol threat makes more sense?"

ABC: No serials/no dramas

"Only a few seasons ago, ABC had no luck landing a decent drama. Now that it's lousy with 'em, including a couple that are among television's highest-rated, it can't score a decent sitcom to save some development executive's neck. No one could blame the network if it scrapped the lot and started completely fresh..."

NBC: FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, Crossing Jordan, Studio 60

"The Peacock is facing a bit of a dilemma as is flies into May. HEROES became a hit, but other freshmen such as FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS suffer from a mismatch between acclaim (high) and ratings (low); and veterans, even [the original] Law & Order are barely treading water. NBC fumbled the promotion campaign for [LIGHTS] last summer, but it can make up for that in the run-up to season two....there's less hope for the likes of Crossing Jordan and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which might be pushed on top of the cancellation grenade to preserve the mother ship L&O—and save the cost-cutting NBC some money."


FOX: PRISON BREAK, Standoff

"PRISON BREAK has yet to be renewed, but it's safer than Standoff, which is getting a last chance to justify its existence by turning around the Friday night death slot. (Not gonna happen.)

THE CW: VERONICA MARS, GILMORE GIRLS, 7th HEAVEN

"VERONICA MARS fans are used to hearing gloomy predictions about its survival odds this time of year, but now they really have to be worried. First, its season order was shortened. Then, hiatus replacement The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll drew in higher ratings. Another whammy: The stars of GILMORE GIRLS haven't decided whether to extend their contracts for another year. Without GILMORE, Neptune's finest might be done. If those shows go down, they had better take [HEAVEN] with them."

(Read the full story, including McFarland's sitcom pics, here.)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

NPR's 'Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me' Turns its Satirical Eye on Daytime

Daytime continues to show it still has the stuff of the zeitgeist, finding itself featured this week as a topic on NPR's hit comedy gameshow Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me.

The celeb-studded Wait, Wait... (which bills itself as "the oddly informative news quiz") turns a satirical and side-splitting eye on current events each week. The show has a regular segment called "Bluff the Listener" where a listener-contestant is given details of three potential news stories based on a similar theme and asked to determine which is real.

This week's theme was "Daytime TV to the Rescue" and featured three "potentially" true news accounts of "do-gooders on the daytime dial," including:

  • DAYS OF OUR LIVES choosing to throw an environmentally friendly wedding for characters "Sami Brady" and "Lucas Roberts," played by actors Alison Sweeney and Bryan Dattilo, complete with biodegradable party favors, as a way of raising viewers' environmental consciousness.
  • Talk show hostess Kelly Ripa (ex-Hayley Vaughn Santos, ALL MY CHILDREN) claiming "cuteness" gets no respect to a weekly magazine, dissing Charlie Gibson, and proposing an "attractivness onslaught," led by Anderson Cooper, Reese Witherspoon, and the cast of NBC's HEROES--all capable of proving just how intelligent "cute" can be.
  • GENERAL HOSPITAL, home of Luke and Laura (who panelist Charlie Pierce describes as "the hairstyles that did so much for daytime in the 70s") seeking to raise public awareness of holistic medicine by adding a character, "Dr. Sanjay Prada," who is specialist in Eastern Medicine--and facing protests from the evangelical right in the process.

Readers of Soappipe, of course, know that the correct answer is DAYS's upcoming "green wedding," and that the others came from the show's very creative imagination. Sadly, the listener-contestant did not, incorrectly identifying the made-up GH alternative medicine story as the correct one.

(More on Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me here.)

New York Artists Sue NBC's HEROES, Claim 'Striking' Similarities

Reuters reports that two artists are suing NBC Universal and the creators of the net's superhero serial HEROES, claiming their work was unlawfully appropriated for the hit show.

In a suit filed last week, the pair charge that HEROES based a key storyline, about an artist who can paint the future, on a short story, film, and series of paintings they exhibited in 2004-05. The artists' suit claims the character and story of "Isaac Mendez" (portrayed by Santiago Cabrera) is "strikingly similar" to that earlier work.

HEROES, a nighttime serial about a group of ordinary people who discover they have superhero-like abilities, has been credited with helping to boost NBC's ratings this season. The show's stars include Hayden Panettiere (ex-"Lizzie Spaulding," GUIDING LIGHT, ex-"Sarah Roberts," ONE LIFE TO LIVE), Jack Coleman (ex-"Steven Carrington," DYNASTY), Milo Ventimiglia (ex-"Jess Mariano," GILLMORE GIRLS, ex-"Chris Pierce," AMERICAN DREAMS), Adrian Pasdar (ex-"David Bradley," DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, Judging Amy, Profit) and Greg Grunberg (ex-"Sean Blumberg," FELICITY, ex-"Eric Weiss," ALIAS).

In a statement, NBC (a unit of General Electric) said the network believes the suit is without merit, stating "we intend to defend it vigorously and expect to prevail."

Friday, March 16, 2007

DAYS's Sweeney 'Takes to the Floor' in Hollywood

From the UK's Daily Record:

"DONCHA wish Carmen Electra could keep on her feet? The ex-Pussycat Dolls stunner came a cropper while hosting a charity fashion show in Hollywood.

She was closely followed by on the deck by US soap star Alison Sweeney, who took an even more spectacular tumble.

The DAYS OF OUR LIVES actress was left sprawling full-length on the floor and the two ended up looking more like fashion victims than icons."

Editor's note: I saw the footage last night on Keith Olbermann's show, and I can absolutely say that Sweeney and Electra showed everyone present exactly how to recover from an embarassing moment--with big, beautiful smiles and a laugh all around.

ATWT's Hansis Scores Emmy Nod, Sparks Discussion on 'State of Gays' in Daytime

Van Hansis, new Emmy nominee for playing gay teen/supercouple spawn "Luke Snyder" on AS THE WORLD TURNS will find himself with one heck of a cheering section come awards night.

Popular gay men's site
Towleroad (a pun on creator Andy Towle's last name) heralds the news of Hansis's nom, and links to a compilation of some of the key points in the WGI award-winning "Luke comes out" storyline (unfortunately, the clip focuses solely on the teen slant to the story and the effort by Luke's biological father to "cure" him, and misses the most powerful--and best acted--scenes in the storyline: when Luke comes out to his family, when his best friend calls him a "faggot" to his face, or the any number of moving discussions between adopted father and son, featuring Hansis and Jon Hensley, that have followed).

At the time of this post, over 25 comments had been posted in response, many expressing concern over ATWT's long-term commitment to the character--as everything from Luke's post-coming out lack of screen time, to the chances Luke will ever have an on-screen boyfriend/relationship of any significance. ALL MY CHILDREN's Bianca (played by Eden Reigel) is also cited.

Though fears that daytime is too conservative to show same-sex affection have been allayed in recent years by on-screen developments on AMC and PASSIONS, it is clear from the postings on Towleroad that the subject continues to be a sensitive one for gay viewers, who appear both agitated and resigned to the "fact" that gay characters are ultimately destined for marginalization, a concern it appears the not historically gay-friendly industry may have taken heed of: daytime now features multiple lesbians and gay men (many in core families, nearly all contract roles for the actors who play them) across all three networks, and one pre-operative transgender character (who we recently saw visit a transgender peer group). In addition to chronicling the ongoing travails of lesbian teen heroine Simon Russell (Cathy Janeen Doe), PASSIONS recently kicked of a groundbreaking "down low" storyline for core-family member Chad Harris-Crane (Charles Divins), and GENERAL HOSPITAL has announced plans to reinvigorate the character of "Lucas Jones" (last played by Ben Hogestyn), Luke and Laura's gay nephew, last seen chaperoning the local prom with a same-sex date.

Bringing it all full circle, Soap Opera Digest recently noted the casting of Luke's first love interest is complete, and promised Hansis's screen-time fortunes are about to reverse, so much of Luke's story (and Hansis's acting) may be yet to come.

(Read the post, see the video, or read the comments here.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

RIP: DAYS's Lanna Saunders

From the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times:

Lanna Saunders, best known for her long-running role as "Sister Marie Horton" on DAYS OF OUR LIVES has died. She was 65.

"As an actress, as well as a person, Lanna Saunders had an elegance and grace that bespoke the deepest qualities of her soul which made her character, 'Sister Marie,' honest and believable, yet so easy to look at," said Ken Corday, executive producer of DAYS.

Sanders joined the DAYS cast in 1979. She left the show in 1985, after being diagnosed with MS in 1982.

(more)

A little 'Soap' with your politics?

Proof that soap mainstays such as AS THE WORLD TURNS haven't lost "it" as cultural reference points here.

DAYS Invites Viewers to Daytime's First 'Green Wedding'

Whatever love DAYS OF OUR LIVES isn’t getting from the Emmys this Spring is likely to be more than made up by goodwill from environmentally conscious soap fans.

When DAYS’s resident bad girl “Sami Brady,” portrayed by Alison Sweeney, finally makes it down the aisle (which is not to say she will actually make it through the ceremony…the character has been left at the altar too many times to count) with soulmate “Lucas Roberts” (Bryan Dattilo), the nuptials will be chock-full of what the show is describing as “earth-friendly elements."

Executive producer Ken Corday, points to Al Gore's Academy Award winning global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth as an indicator of a growing consciousness of environmental issues by the general public. A higher profile for environmental concerns is also an opportunity for DAYS and the soap industry, Corday said, to "fall in step in helping to raise the viewers' consciousness of certain environmental problems and solutions.”

Partnered with DAYS in putting together the fictional ceremony—set to feature pesticide-free flowers and biodegradable wedding favors—are organic chef Ben Ford (son of actor Harrison Ford) and wedding Web site TheKnot.com.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Daytime Emmy Nominations Sure to Spark Controversy: Does CBS continue to be recognized disproportionately at the expense of NBC?

Nominees for the 34th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy® Awards were announced today by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences live on CBS's The Early Show at the stages of GUIDING LIGHT, television’s longest running daytime drama.

Peter Price, President of the National Television Academy, was joined by Barbara Bloom, Sr. VP, CBS Daytime Programs, Early Show anchor Julie Chen, and actors Mandy Bruno and Bradley Cole ("Marina Cooper" and "Jeffrey O'Neill") of GL; Terri Colombino and Austin Peck ("Katie Peretti Kasnoff" and "Brad Snyder") of AS THE WORLD TURNS; Brandon Beemer ("Shawn Brady") of DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Cathy Jeneen Doe, ("Simone Russell"), PASSIONS, Bree Williamson ("Jessica and 'Tess' Buchanan") of ONE LIFE TO LIVE and Jacob Young of ALL MY CHILDREN.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, CBS
  • GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC
  • THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series

  • Maura West, as "Carly Snyder," AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • Crystal Chappell, as "Olivia Spencer," GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • Kim Zimmer, as "Reva Shayne Lewis," GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • Jeanne Cooper, as "Katherine Chancellor," THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
  • Michelle Stafford, as "Phyllis Summers Newman," THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
  • Michael Park, as "Jack Snyder," AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • Anthony Geary, as "Luke Spencer," GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • Ricky Paull Goldin, as "Gus Aitoro," GUIDING LIGHT, CBS"
  • Peter Bergman, as "Jack Abbott," THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
  • Christian LeBlanc, as "Michael Baldwin," THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
  • Lesli Kay, as "Felicia Forrester," THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, CBS
  • Genie Francis, as "Laura Spencer," GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • Rebecca Herbst, as "Elizabeth Spencer," GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • Gina Tognoni, as "Dinah Marler," GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • Renee Elise Goldsberry, as "Evangeline Williamson," ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC
  • Heather Tom, as "Kelly Kramer," ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
  • Trent Dawson, as "Henry Coleman," AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • Rick Hearst, as "Ric Lansing," GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • Dan Gauthier, as "Kevin Buchanan," ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC
  • Greg Rikaart, as "Kevin Fisher," THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
  • Kristoff St. John, as "Neil Winters," THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS

Outstanding Younger Actress In A Drama Series

  • Leven Ramblin as "Lily Montgomery," ALL MY CHILDREN, ABC
  • Jennifer Landon, as "Gwen Munson," AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • Alexandra Chando, as "Maddie Coleman," AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • Julie Berman, as "Lulu Spencer," GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • Stephanie Gaschet, as "Tammy Winslow," GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
Outstanding Younger Actor In A Drama Series
  • Van Hansis, as "Luke Snyder," AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • Jesse Soffer, as "Will Munson," AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • Tom Pelphrey, as "Jonathan Randall," GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • James Stevenson,as "Jared Casey," PASSIONS, NBC
  • Bryton McClure, as "Devon Hamilton," THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
Outstanding Achievement in Live & Direct To Tape Sound Mixing For A Drama Series
  • AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • DAYS OF OUR LIVES, NBC
  • GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video Control For A Drama Series
  • ALL MY CHILDREN, ABC
  • AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC
Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team
  • THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, CBS
  • GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction/Set Decoration/Scenic Design for a Drama Series
  • ALL MY CHILDREN, ABC
  • AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, CBS
  • ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC

Outstanding Achievement for a Casting Director For A Drama Series

  • Mary Clay Boland, Casting Director, AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • Christy Dooley, Casting Driector, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, CBS
  • Mark Teschner, Casting Director, GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • Rob Decina, Casting Director, GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design For A Drama Series
  • AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • PASSIONS, NBC
Outstanding Drama Series Directing Team
  • AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC
Outstanding Achievement in Multiple Camera Editing For A Drama Series
  • THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, CBS
  • DAYS OF OUR LIVES, NBC
  • GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC

Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling For A Drama Series

  • ALL MY CHILDREN, ABC
  • AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • DAYS OF OUR LIVES, NBC
  • PASSIONS, NBC

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction For A Drama Series

  • AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • DAYS OF OUR LIVES, NBC
  • GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC
Outstanding Achievement in Makeup For A Drama Series
  • AS THE WORLD TURNS, CBS
  • THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, CBS
  • GENERAL HOSPITAL, ABC
  • PASSIONS, NBC

Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction And Composition For A Drama Series

  • DAYS OF OUR LIVES, NBC
  • GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ABC
  • THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
Outstanding Original Song
  • "Can You Love Me (With The Lights On)," GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • "In A Moment," GUIDING LIGHT, CBS
  • "Love is Ecstasy," PASSIONS, NBC
  • "It's A New Day, Today," Today Show, NBC
  • "Carry On," THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, CBS
Two now-defunct soap-related programs were recognized as well. SoapNet's talker, SOAP TALK, earned Emmy nods in two categories, for Outstanding Talk Show Host(s), Lisa Rinna and Ty Treadway, and for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup. NBC "reality soap" STARTING OVER, garnered two noms.

Nomination counts broke out as follows:

Networks -

  1. CBS, 57
  2. ABC, 36
  3. NBC, 15

Shows -

  1. GL, 17
  2. ATWT, 16
  3. Y&R, 12
  4. GH, 10; OLTL, 10
  5. B&B, 7
  6. AMC, 5; DAYS, 5; PASSIONS, 5

The 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on Friday, June 15, 2007 (9:00 PM – 11:00 PM ET/PT), on CBS.

Television pioneer Lee Phillip Bell, co-creator, along with her late husband, William J. Bell, of Y&R and B&B, was previously announced as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

A complete list of nominees
can be found here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Soaps Recognized For Tackling ‘Elephant In The Room’ of Substance Abuse and Mental Health

On March 13, nominees for the 11th Annual PRISM Awards were announced in Burbank, CA. The PRISM Awards, presented by the Entertainment Industries Council (in partnership with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/SAMHSA), recognize productions and performances that feature accurate depictions of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and addiction. In two new awards this year, recognition will also be given to accurate depictions of struggles related to mental health and bi-polar disorder.

In addition to the five competitors in the Daytime Drama-specific category, GENERAL HOSPITAL received a nod alongside primetime specials and episodic television in the new category honoring portrayals of bi-polar disorder.

The nominees announced today include:

TV Daytime Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline

  • "JR's Alcoholism," ALL MY CHILDREN (protagonist "JR Chandler" is portrayed by Jacob Young)
  • "Luke's Alcohol Abuse," AS THE WORLD TURNS (protagonist "Luke Snyder" is portrayed by Van Hansis)
  • "Hunters (sic) Battle with Alcoholism," BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (protagonist "Taylor Hayes Forrester" is portrayed by Hunter Tylo, pictured)
  • "Lucky's Drug Addiction," GENERAL HOSPITAL (protagonist "Lucas 'Lucky' Spencer" is portrayed by Greg Vaughan)
  • "Gus's Addiction," GUIDING LIGHT (protagonist "Gus Aituro" is portrayed by Ricky Paull Goldin)
Bipolar Disorder Award
  • Crazy for Life
  • GENERAL HOSPITAL - Sonny's Bipolar Disorder (protagonist "Sonny Corinthos" is portrayed by Maurice Benard)
  • Jelly Smoke
  • Law and Order - "Heart of Darkness"
  • Law and Order: Special Victims Unit - "Influence"
Recipients will be announced at a ceremony to be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on April 24th and which will air in November on the FX Network. (The network will also air the previous year’s awards show April 22nd as part of the promotion of the PRISM awards ceremony on the 24th.)

(Read more here.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wanna Be A Soap Star? Get in line (literally...)! Open Casting Call Dates Announced

SoapNet and show producer LMNO Productions have announced the open casting call schedule for season 4 of their reality show I WANNA BE A SOAP STAR.

Contestants who make it through the first round of casting calls will receive a call back and a plane ticket to Los Angeles for call backs with host Cameron Mathison ("Ryan Lavery," ALL MY CHILDREN) on April 1. Series executive producers Eric Schotz and Lisa Bourgoujian will also attend the casting sessions.

As previously reported, this seasons winner will receive a 13-week contract role on NBC's DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

The Casting Calls:

MIAMI - Open Auditions 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 17
SONESTA HOTEL & SUITES COCONUT GROVE
2889 McFarlane Road; Coconut Grove, FL 33133

NEW YORK - Open Auditions 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 24
The View Stages
320 West 66th Street New York, NY 10023

LOS ANGELES - Open Auditions 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. PT
Saturday, March 31
ABC Prospect Studios
4151 Prospect Avenue
The Rehearsal Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90028

(Contestants are encouraged to go to

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Soap's Living Pioneer Lee Phillip Bell to Make History with Lifetime Achievement Emmy

YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS co-creator Lee Phillip Bell has been selected by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (or NATAS) to receive the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Daytime Emmys ceremony, and will make new television history when she does.


Bell, mother of Y&R star Lauralee Bell ("Christine 'Cricket' Blair") and BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL executive producer/head writer Bradley Bell (pictured), partnered with her late husband William J. Bell to create two of CBS's most successful soaps, Y&R and B&B, and continued as a story consultant for both shows for many years.

In 1992, William Bell received the Lifetime Achievement Award from NATAS, making the which makes the two the only married couple to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award individually from NATAS in television history.

More on Bell (including her long-standing concern for the social issues of the day and award-winning work as a Chicago broadcaster) can be found here.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

BROADCASTING & CABLE: 'Writer's Guild Reaches Agreement with CBS Over Soap Opera Webisodes'

Jim Benson at Broadcasting & Cable has this:

"The East and West Coast branches of the Writers Guild of America have reached an agreement with CBS covering the writing of 'webisode' online content for the daytime serials AS THE WORLD TURNS and THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS.

The WGA says the deal provides 'a flexible framework for future online, mobile-content and other new technology deals within the entertainment industry' referring to upcoming contract negotiations with Hollywood that could start as early as this summer. But industry executives say they see the pact as being specifically related to the two soaps, which have an upcoming joint storyline that will play out online, rather than as a template for a new overall deal.

'We are pleased to have worked with CBS to develop a fair compensation model for this new media platform,' WGA West Executive Director David Young said in a statement. 'By coming together to reach this forward-looking agreement, we've helped insure that the stories created by writers for this new medium will continue to maintain the creative integrity of original network programming.'


The WGA-CBS agreement relates to the guild's efforts to cover writing services for new media. In addition to initial compensation, the WGA says the new deal provides benefits and protections that include minimums, residuals in all markets (including reuse for new media, television, cable and DVD) , pension and health coverage, and writing credit provisions."

(Read the original article here)



Nets Look to Soap-ready Names to Insulate New Nighttime Soap Offerings

With the resurgent success of complete and near-complete serialized drama on the broadcast nets (examples include hit sophomore soap GREY'S ANATOMY on ABC, and first-season breakout supernatural serial HEROES, on NBC, both following in the footsteps of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES), the nets are again looking to nighttime sudsers--and the loyal fans they potentially generate--to fill key holes in their schedules.


With several high profile projects in the works--including a much buzzed-about (but as yet untitled) Grey's spin-off, British import FOOTBALL WIVES (both ABC) and what the Hollywood Reporter recently described as a "cop soap," PROTECT AND SERVE in the pilot stages for CBS--the nets look to be relying on big names familiar to daytime and nighttime soap viewers to guarantee early sampling by loyal soap audiences, and insulate the new shows against many of the challenges faced by freshmen scripted dramas.


  • The Grey's spin-off, set to be piloted as a two-hour, stand-alone Grey's Anatomy "movie event" later this Spring, continues to build up the star power (and soap experience) on its roster. In addition to already announced stars Tim Daly (Wings, Eyes, ex-"Nick Cavenaugh," THE NINE) and Taye Diggs (ex-"Sugar Hill," GUIDING LIGHT), mystery teen-soap VERONICA MARS actor Chris Lowell (ex-"Piz Piznarzki"), and tv and film vet Hector Elizondo (ex-"Dr. Phillip Watters," CHICAGO HOPE) have joined the pilot as well.

  • Real-life NFL-spouse Holly Robinson-Peete (ex-"Officer Judy Hoffs," 21 Jump Street) will join Xena's Lucy Lawless (ex-"D'Anna Biers," BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA), alongside film star Gabrielle Union (ex-"Dr. Courtney Ellis," CITY OF ANGELS) and SUNSET BEACH alum Eddie Cibrian (ex-"Cole Deschanel") in the cast of FOOTBALL WIVES.

  • PROTECT AND SERVE, previewed as a starring vehicle for The Practice's Steve Harris, has added the YOUNG & RESTLESS's Thad Luckinbill ("J.T. Hellstrom") to a cast that already includes nighttime soap veteran Grant Show (ex-"Jake Hanson," MELROSE PLACE, ex-"Lucas Boyd," POINT PLEASANT, ex-"Daniel Kerr," BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE).

More on these and others in what may be a bumper crop of nighttime serials being prepped for possible Fall debuts as information becomes available.

Hey, Nice Shout-Out! (and we don't believe for a moment that he's dead either...)


In a recent blog post, "The Captain America Death Scam," comic book fan Mikey Mason, delivers this GREAT retort to NPR (and other media) coverage of the "death" of Marvel Comic mainstay Captain America:
"Sure he's dead. And Roman Brady from DAYS OF OUR LIVES was
dead, too. But then he came back after amazing reconstructive surgery, and reestablished his life with his widow, only that wasn't really him, it was a brainwashed John Black, who worked for Stefano Dimera, only to find out that he wasn't the real Roman Brady when the real Roman Brady returned, so he joined forces with the real Roman Brady to try and take down Stefano Dimera, even though they were still wooing the same woman, Marlena (Roman's wife, who thought that John Black was Roman, too.)"
ALSO: Check out an old blog post on CBS.com by AS THE WORLD TURNS's Van Hansis ("Luke Snyder"), in which he draws upon his passionate comic book-fandom to draw parallels between ATWT and the popular Marvel Comic's "X-Men" series. (you'll need to scroll down to the entry marked 'Blog 11.0: June 19, 2006')

Just a poor choice of words?

In the heirarchy of the entertainment business, soaps have gotten the short straw for years, particularly in the R-E-S-P-E-C-T department. In covering the floundering MyNetworkTV broadcast net, Naples News "Mr. TV" columnist David Morris, goes for an easy, if unfortunate, dig on the industry:

"When the WB and UPN networks merged to create The CW, one station in each market became the CW affiliate and the other grabbed the short straw," wrote Morris, "joining FOX's MyNetworkTV and airing soap operas every night."
Mr. Morris correctly notes that MyNetworkTV "didn't work anywhere," but it no doubt it could be argued (to Morris and anyone else chalking up MyNetworkTV's struggling to it's choice to program "telenovela-style" soaps in prime-time) that MyNetworkTV's real problems are rooted in far more conventional concerns for an upstart network (starting with viewer recogntion...recent reports have noted that most Americans didn't even know the net existed...let alone that they could find it in their local market), not the choice to run soaps, versus, say, UPN's original line-up of sitcoms like Homeboys in Outer Space.

(There is, of course, a cable channel that does nothing BUT run soaps 7x a week, and something tells me the MyNetworkTV brass would have been perfectly happy to have drawn a "short straw" that delivered SoapNet-like numbers, buzz, and viewer loyalty... )

Here's wishing MyNetworkTV all the success in the world in finding it's ultimate place on the dial and audience--and finding those things will be a lot easier if they acknowledge the myriad real reasons for their lackluster peformance thus far...and don't rely on scapegoating what has appeared to be fairly well-produced, campy soap fun these past few months (at least according to the 4 people who knew MyNetworkTV was even on...and where to find it).

Friday, March 9, 2007

Show Them Docs the Money: GREY'S Cast Re-Negotiates at 2-yr. Mark

GREY'S ANATOMY, ABC's popular, Thursday night medical ensemble, has been widely credited with breathing life back into the nighttime dramatic serial (particularly nighttime soap of a less camptastic vintage than those popularized by the Aaron Spelling-produced shows of the 80s and 90s, including DYNASTY and MELROSE PLACE). Now it appears most of its cast (most of whom were already locked into ongoing 7-year deals) is being rewarded accordingly. Read the Hollywood Reporter story here.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Will the next Irna Philips please stand up?

WCSH-TV in Portland, Maine ran an on-air story (and has this short piece on their website), profiling student filmmaker Stacy Ann Strang and her fellow budding soap opera creators at the University of Southern Maine who have made it into the final rounds of SoapNet's create-a-soap competition. Watch the video, and read the article here (and look for more coverage of the competition itself in the coming weeks).

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Aussie Press: Is B&B's Ronn Moss Australia's "Greatest Unpaid Employee"?

Additional coverage from the BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL remote in Sydney, Australia, complete with some insights into the international ratings game...

(read full article here)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

MyNetwork-who? "Big 4" Broadcaster FOX Poised to Re-Join the Traditional Soap Game (with AMERICAN IDOL's Fuller on-board)

MyNetworkTV's recently announced intentions to abandon their attempts at daily "telenovela"-style programming, combined with the cancellation of NBC's PASSIONS have left many fans of the traditional soap-format concerned for the future. However, a series of recent industry moves (including news of an NBC-backed relaunch of PASSIONS on an alternate platform and the announcement of cable GENERAL HOSPITAL spin-off, NIGHT SHIFT, on SoapNet) may indicate that the aches being felt by the venerable genre as of late, have merely been growing pains...

In a new piece by Variety's Michael Schneider, the publication's web site reports that, years after their last stab at daytime soap programming, FOX is looking to return to the traditional soap business, ordering a 1/2 hour pilot thematically similar to the very popular, long-running British soap EASTENDERS.

The full text of Michael Schneider's Variety piece:

"FOX is getting into the half-hour soap opera business, pacting with 'American Idol' producer 19 Entertainment to adapt the popular U.K. genre for auds across the pond.

Net has ordered a pilot from 19 Entertainment that revolves around a blue collar family. Sudser comes from 19 Entertainment's Simon Fuller, as well as the shingle's head of drama, Mal Young.

Young joined 19 Entertainment at the end of 2004; before that, he served as controller of continuing drama series at the BBC, overseeing production on shows including long-running half-hour drama EASTENDERS. He also co-created another entry, DOCTORS. As head of drama at Pearson, Young also created Channel 5's FAMILY AFFAIRS.

If ordered to series, the Fuller/Young sudser could potentially air several times a week on Fox.

Fuller and Young will serve as co-creators and exec producers of the Fox pilot, which is currently untitled. CAA packaged the project."


With the already in-the-works adaptation of the British nighttime soap (and national guilty pleasure) FOOTBALLER'S WIVES (to be retitled FOOTBALL WIVES, with the titular "football" converted from soccer to American NFL-style football), may a clue to the future of American soaps lie across the pond?

Monday, March 5, 2007

ABC & SoapNet Excite, Dissapoint Fans at Florida University (99% of whom were likely Demo viewers...)

ABC-Daytime drew largely-mixed (though some angry) reviews during one of their largest and most hyped promotional projects with sister network SoapNet, Rock the Quad, a contest win that had promised a visit by five ABC-Daytime stars and a series of promotional events, icluding the attendance of classes by the stars, with University of Florida freshman Meg Pabst. Pabst beat out several hundred other entrants--also students--in a contest challenging them to prove their love for their favorite ABC soap to SoapNet.

When the big day came for Pabst, a passionate GENERAL HOSPITAL fan, and the 500 "frenzied" ABC-Daytime fans in estimated to be in attendance, the actors arrived nearly 2 hours late, and included GH actors such as Bradford Anderson ("Damien Spinelli") and new recast Kiko Ellsworth ("Stan Johnson"), both supporting-of-supporting actors with problematic screentime (Anderson has been known to play nearly all 5 days a week despite tepid, sometimes hostile, fan reaction to his quirky character, while Ellsworth--and immensely popular soap star from his previous gig as former GH DA "Dara Jenson's" cousin "Jamal" on the now defunct GH spin-off PORT CHARLES--had not yet had any screen time to speak of and thus has not yet had a chance to become a fan favorite or not for GH fans).

According to an Independent Florida Alligator newspaper of the event, about 500 fans shivered in a cold wind Friday while they waited for the event, hosted by former-Bachelor Bob Guiney (stock photo from an unidentified fan event, right), but were kept entertained by ABC/SoapNet's advance team:

"While waiting for the event to begin, some students munched on hamburgers, hotdogs and cookies that were provided by ABC. Others received free makeovers and were sent to a photographer for headshots. Some of the more serious fans crowded the stage, afraid of losing their spots, which would put them within arm's reach of the celebrities.

Though Pabst remained positive the whole time, the paper noted the annoyance of her friends "that ABC representatives didn't fulfill a string of promises, [after]Pabst had spent dozens of hours filling out a questionnaire, throwing a General Hospital party and creating a scrapbook in order to win the contest."

ABC representative Mitch Messinger admitted to the Alligator that the stars did not tour campus or attend classes with Pabst as had promised, noting that the stars toured the school without Pabst.

Neither Messinger nor Brian Frons, President of ABC-Daytime, nor SoapNet GM Deborah Blackwell, have yet to respond to inquiries from Soappipe.



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