Wednesday, March 21, 2007

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 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)

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