Saturday, March 10, 2007

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.

1 comment:

k/lennox said...

A lot of shows do a great job of casting soap stars with existing followings, and then can't sell the net on *promoting* those stars in ads, etc. when the time comes to draw viewers to the show. A show that did a good job of that was "Las Vegas" which has been a consistent engine-that-could for NBC, despite not being all that great a show. I think it's because they cast and promoted the hell out of a bunch of stars with existing, super-passionate fan-bases, like James Caan, Josh Duhamel and Vanessa Marcil, and to a lesser extent James Lesure, Nikki Cox, and Molly Sims. Not insignificantly many were soap vets, and Duhamel and Marcil were young legends in the genre with loyal fan blocks already. I personally believe, and think that belief is supported, that the consistency of the soap fanbase that came to "Las Vegas" and stayed is what has kept the show such a reliable performer in time slot after time slot, a fate which has killed better shows that it. If "Protect & Serve" is only advertised as a Steve Harris show, and the passionate fans of soap stars like Grant Show and Thad Luckinbill aren't aware their faves are on a new show, then CBS will miss out.

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