Monday, April 16, 2007

'Ever Wonder How New Shows Are Picked?'

In the world of TV, there's an annual high-stakes craps game. Millions of dollars are wagered, and there's just a handful of winners.

The Mercury News has a great story on the TV-show piloting process, entitled "Ever Wonder How New Shows Are Picked?"

Read it here.

DRIVE Sputters (but may rev up yet...)

Variety reports on the disappointing performance of the 2-hour premiere of FOX's action serial DRIVE (starring, among others, ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Nathan Fillion, ex-"Joey Buchanan," pictured), which suffered in a debut time-slot placing it directly opposite an original episode of ABC's hit serial DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

The auto-race serial, which features a fairly unique premise, may have a better chance building an audience once it settles into its permanent timeslot on Monday nights and has a chance to benefit from word of mouth among its target audience of young men. Read the story here.

TUDORS Scores Early Second Season Pick-Up

Showtime has renewed its hit period-soap opera THE TUDORS only two episodes into the show's first season.

The heavily hyped premium channel serial, starring film star
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as a young, virile Henry VIII, broke Showtime records with its April 1 debut. Though viewership has leveled off somewhat since, the series continues to post stellar numbers for the net, as evidenced by the serial's early renewal.

The10-episode second season, expected to further chronicle the marriage of Henry to the ill-fated Anne Boleyn, will debut sometime in 2008.

13 Questions With...Marlena De Lacroix

Marlena DeLacroix is a true legend in soap journalism, with more than 20 years of experience as a soap writer, editor, and, most importantly, soap fan. After wrapping up her most recent stint in conventional media at Soap Opera Weekly, Marlena boldly took on the Internet (and is thriving!) with her take-no-prisoners blog, "Savoring Soaps."

At Soappipe, we are flattered to have Marlena as a reader, and honored to have her tackle our 13 Questions With...Marlena DeLaCroix. Hi, Marlena!

What’s the name of your blog? "Savoring Soaps"

If I had to describe my blog in one sentence it would be...a continuation of my "Critical Condition" column, which I wrote weekly from 1989-2001 in SOW.

What appeals to you most about daytime soaps? Throughout all the phases of my life -- college, careers, graduate school -- I could always go back to soaps. They're home.

Do you have an all-time favorite storyline? "Alice-Steve-Rachel" (Jacquie Courtney, George Reinholdt, Robin Strasser) on ANOTHER WORLD circa 1969. Never has a heroine cried more tears, never has a villainess been more delicious, never has a hero's face been so perfectly chisled. All written to utter perfection by Agnes Nixon. Years later, I almost fainted when Reinholdt sent Marlena a tribute poem.

Do you have least favorite story? Anything with "Sonny and Carly" (Maurice Benard and Laura Wright) from GENERAL HOSPITAL. It is not romance, it is not love It's a sick never-ending obsession between two psychologically impaired people. Whoever writes them knows nothing about truth or real relationships.

Of the younger stars out there (say, 30 and under), who do you see as the future of soaps? If they're extraordinary they'll move on, as all young soaps actors always have. Examples: Jennifer Landon, Jeffrey Carlson, Bradford Anderson. What young actors of today will endure in soaps? Those that were cast because of the acting talent and training, not because of beauty or muscles.

Of today’s crop of actors, executives, writers, etc. who do you predict will be remembered as a future "great" in soap history?
The crop of execs and writers that will be remembered are the greats I got to know in the 80's and 90's: Nixon, Mr. Bell Sr., Monty, Labine, Marland, Malone, Rauch, Reilly. No one from today soaps. Anyone who is still around is strictly in survival mode, not creative mode.

Do you watch any of the nighttime serials (
Desperate Housewives, Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, etc.)? Do you have a favorite? I watch the news, BBC-America programming and the games of my husband's favorite baseball team, The New York Yankees. The last truly good nighttime soap was KNOT'S LANDING.

“My readers get most riled up when…” I keep noticing that the ones who hate their soaps the most (
General Hospital in particular) persist in continuing to watch them.

“My readers love it when…” I reminisce about someone or a show I got to deal with personally over my many years soap journalist. Do you know that the recently departed Larry "Bud" Melman (of the David Letterman show) was the world's biggest soap opera fan? I always used to see him (real name: Calvert De Forest) enjoying the free food at soap parties here in NYC . He had the WORST breath I have ever encountered!

“If I could bring one soap (daytime or nighttime) back from the dead, it would be…” EDGE OF NIGHT, the best, most integellent mystery soap ever. Its late headwriter, Henry Slesar, and exec producer Nick Nicholson were two of the classiest men I have ever met.

If you had to give soaps one piece of advice to stem ratings fall-offs, what would it be? Stay intelligent! Write stories solely from character! Let women characters have careers and brains! Ban catfights! Don't hire Megan McTavish ever again!

Finally, if readers want to visit your blog, what’s the URL?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

ABC Nighttime Soaps Win GLAAD Media Awards

GREY'S ANATOMY the hit soap whose actor, Isaiah Washington, was criticized for calling a then-closeted co-star T.R. Knight a "faggot," (leading to Knight's coming out and creating a pre-Imus teaching moment for the nation and a Hollywood that prides itself on being tolerant.) was awarded outstanding individual episode Saturday, by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (for the episode "Where the Boys Are").

ABC continued their sweep--begun when ALL MY CHILDREN beat AS THE WORLD TURNS, among others, for outstanding daytime drama last month in New York--when freshman serials UGLY BETTY won for outstanding television comedy series and BROTHERS & SISTERS took home the outstanding drama series award.

The 18th annual GLAAD Media Awards -- consisting of 42 categories -- are split into four ceremonies, held in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and San Francisco in March, April and May. The awards recognize and honor mainstream media for "fair, accurate and inclusive representations" of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

'EASTENDERS'-inspired 'BORN IN THE USA' revving up for FOX

More details are emerging about the new FOX soap BORN IN THE USA, set to be a loose adaptation of the wildly popular British working-class soap EASTENDERS.

The pilot focuses on the residents of a blue-collar soap opera. Tembi Locke (Windfall) will play the mother to the teenage girl played by American Idol veteran Lisa Tucker. Jon Rowland (AS THE WORLD TURNS) will play a young Catholic priest, while Rod Rowland (VERONICA MARS) will appear as a divorced couple. Scarlett Chorvat ("The District") and Diego Serrano (ANOTHER WORLD, TIME OF YOUR LIFE) will play an engaged couple in the pilot, which comes from American Idol producers 19 Entertainment. (From

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bringing Sexy Back? MTV's 'Undressed' All Over Again

MTV is has brought back their six-season late-night daily soap opera UNDRESSED to air, SoapNet style, in marathon blocks of re-runs every night from midnight to 4 a.m. ET.

USA Today notes the cheesy nature of the soap, but points out that more than "a few UNDRESSED cast members have gone on to bigger things since the series' run [including] include Superman Returns' Brandon Routh (ex-"Seth," ONE LIFE TO LIVE, pictured), Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff, ONE TREE HILL's Chad Michael Murray, THE OC's Adam Brody and Autumn Reeser and Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Marc Blucas.

FOX and ABC Set to Debut Action-Adventure Serials for Summer

The Hollywood Reporter ran a story this week entitled "Serialized Dramas Hope to Reheat Ailing Genre," but it was less an examination of the industry and more a profile of two new nighttime serials to set to debut as late mid-season replacements. ("Ailing" is, of course, relative, as the pick-up rate of 21% for new serial dramas has already met--and if only one more is renewed this season, it will excced--the average rate for all new shows, of any genre.):

Fox's DRIVE and ABC's TRAVELER -- both heavily serialized dramas -- were developed during the 2006-07 development cycle when the [serial] genre was red hot.

A year later, the genre is in the freezer after the majority of ambitious new fall series with continuous story lines crashed and burned.

Now Drive and Traveler slated for a May 30 launch, will test the airwaves to see if the serialized drama curse has been lifted.


Indeed, observers note that it was the dark serialized dramas such as VANISHED, KIDNAPPED, SMITH, THE NINE, and DAY BREAK that fizzled, while lighter fare such as the heavily serialized HEROES and the soap UGLY BETTY became the breakout hits of the season.

Drive and Traveler are in the action-adventure genre -- Drive chronicles an illegal cross-country race and its participants, while Traveler revolves around two graduate students searching for their friend Will Traveler, who disappeared after framing them for a terrorist act. That makes the shows a good fit for the summer movie season that kicks in next month....

Read the full article here.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Network Honchos Tackle the State of Nighttime Soaps

Scott D. Pierce writes an absolutely fantastic piece entitled "To Be Continued..." for the Deseret Morning News on the place and future of the nighttime serial on network television. I've included a highly truncated version below, but recommend reading Pierce's full article here.

From the Deseret Morning News:

Last fall, network executives were…declaring this the Season of the Serial — in addition to the [many] shows with storylines that continue from week to week returning—[execs] added 19 more.

By midseason, some critics were declaring the effort a big flop and predicting the end of serialized shows on network TV.


As with all things in TV, this is cyclical....if the executives were wrong last fall, so were those critics at midseason. The truth lies in the middle. Of those 19 new serials, four — BROTHERS & SISTERS, HEROES, MEN IN TREES, and UGLY BETTY — have already been renewed for next season [a success rate of 21 percent].

A 21 percent success rate is just about [the same] for all new network shows. If one or two more get picked up…this year's crop of serialized newcomers will exceed that average.

Part of the thinking [is] that serials are a risk, but offer a big reward. If they prove popular with [viewers], those viewers will come back week after week.

"Serialization is still one of the biggest hooks that we have into an audience," NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. "[It's] rocket fuel when you hit it."

The risk comes because you're asking viewers to tune in to every single episode [and] the risk increases when there are so many serials on the air, because viewers can't commit to all of them.

Fox's Entertainment president Peter Liguori thinks that serials have to be not just good, but better than other shows. "It seems to me that in order to put on a serialized show, you have a higher standard," he said. "If we're going to ask viewers to make that kind of commitment, you better be great."


It would be nice if quality always wins out [but] some good shows get canceled; some very bad shows succeed.

The thinking is that there were just too many serialized shows on the air at one time...if a viewer is already watching 24 and LOST and GREY’S ANATOMY, how many of the 19 new shows did he or she have time to start watching [also]?

Reilly acknowledged that critics "were right to acknowledge the overabundance of serialized shows." Particularly too many shows that were so much alike in tone….but [that] you can't argue serials don't work, "because there's Heroes, completely defying the logic," Reilly said. "Highly serialized, highly complex and it's the breakout hit of the year."

And ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson believes that "escapism" equaled success, pointing to Betty and Brothers & Sisters.

Liguori postulates that "shows that have a more singular focus and a singular goal may have a leg up. PRISON BREAK — get out of prison; 24 — save the country."

Network programmers…expect to program fewer new serials this fall. "We're...looking and saying. 'How much [of a] commitment can an audience make to an overall schedule?"' McPherson said. As a result, he's looking at more "stuff that is procedural or closed-ended" for next season.

"We're not running away from it," said NBC's Reilly. "But we are balancing it out a little bit more."

Soappipe’s 13 Questions with…SoapZone's Carol Banks Weber

Carol Banks Weber is the prolific (and insightful) writer on Jeff Jungblut's ABC soaps site Soapzone. On a weekly basis, Carol pulls together previews for the upcoming week, aggregates press coverage from the prior week, and notes spoilers and other items in the rumor mill, with the occasional observation of her own tossed in.

For those and many more reasons, Soappipe is pleased to have soap jounalist Carol Banks Weber as the first industry insider showcased in our new regular feature,'s 13 Questions With... Hello, Carol!

What’s the name of the site? (it's Jeff Jungblut's site and I write for it)

If I had to describe the site in one sentence it would be… is a virtual meeting place where everybody goes for the latest soap scoops and the real focus groups, including those in front of and behind the cameras, their friends and family, and the soap press.

What appeals to you most about daytime soaps? I can tune into my favorite soaps and see old, familiar faces, characters who’ve gone through hardships and struggles that I’ve gone through or those I know personally have gone through, characters who have become like second family to me. There’s a reassuring continuity, a foundation of history there that’s missing with these three-to-five-year sitcoms and dramas, as generations upon generations continue in this microcosm of a community, dealing with everyday issues we all have had to deal with… racism, injustice, infidelity, death, diseases, abuse. I like that soap operas elevate the everyday, ordinary – housewives, mothers, cops, doctors – into the extraordinary, the special five days a week.

Do you have an all-time favorite storyline? On GENERAL HOSPITAL, when "Lucy (Coe," portrayed by Lynn Herring) discovered "Dominique (Stanton," Shell Danielson) was dying, she ended their feud over "Scott (Baldwin," Kin Shriner) immediately, kept Dominique's secret and was there in every way to help her. She helped her get ready for her wedding to Scott, and when Dominique did die, she was right there, promising to take care of her daughter with Scott. I cried for days afterward.

Do you have least favorite story? Anything "Sam (McCall," Kelly Monaco) is in on GH. Her current one’s pretty rank. It seems she’s only on to be some titillating victim. I couldn’t much stand the HIV/AIDS story with "Robin Scorpio" and "Stone Cates," either, to tell you the truth. It felt too preachy, and at the time, I absolutely loathed Robin (Kimberly McCullough).

Of the younger stars out there, who do you see as the future of soaps? Unfortunately, I don’t see anybody in the youth demographic staying in soaps long enough to BE a future. But if I were to dream big, I’d say Kristen Alderson ("Starr Manning," ONE LIFE TO LIVE) stands a better chance than any of standing the test of time. It’s been said that Jessica’s the young Viki on that show. But I think it’s gonna be Starr. Ilene Kristen ("Roxy Balsom," OLTL) recently told SOAP OPERA DIGEST she thinks Starr’s poised to drive story for years and years, and I happen to agree. It helps that Alderson practically grew up on OLTL and can deliver the goods when called upon, with some high-caliber actors like Trevor St. John ("Todd Manning," OLTL) and Kassie DePaiva ("Blair Cramer," OLTL). She can do drama and comedy effortlessly, and you can really see her give every scene considerable thought.

Of today’s crop of actors, executives, writers, etc. who do you predict will be remembered as a great in soap history? This is purely subjective, and I can’t count myself as any expert or soothsayer, but … the Labines—they have been maligned as too sappy, but what they did for GH was nothing short of humanizing an action-adventure, soft porn [soap] with [the sorylines of] "B.J.’s Heart," "Monica’s breast cancer," and yes, even trying to shed light on the AIDS crisis through Robin and Stone’s love affair...Rick Hearst
("Ric Lansing," GH), Michael E. Knight ("Tad Martin," ALL MY CHILDREN), Bobbie Eakes ("Krystal Carey Chandler," AMC), Renee Elise Goldsberry ("Evangeline Williamson," OLTL), St. John, Roger Howarth ("Paul Ryan," AS THE WORLD TURNS, ex-"Todd Manning, OLTL"), Julie Marie Berman ("Lulu Spencer," GH), Jacob Young ("JR Chandler," AMC; ex-"Lucky Spencer," GH), Steve Burton ("Jason (Quartermaine) Morgan," GH), Rebecca Herbst ("Elizabeth Weber Spencer," GH), Jason Thompson ("Patrick Drake," GH), Hillary B. Smith ("Nora Hanen Buchanan," OLTL), Phil Carey ("Asa Buchanan," OLTL), Nancy Lee Grahn ("Alexis Davis," GH) and of course Maurice Benard ("Sonny Corinthos," GH).

Do you watch any of the nighttime serials? Do you have a favorite? Gosh, I don’t think I know what the nighttime serials are. GREY'S ANATOMY and LOST? Whatever. Too popular. (I do love FOX’s HOUSE when I have the time to watch.) I spend so much of my free time watching daytime soaps, I don’t have any to spare at night!

My readers get most riled up when… I criticize one of their favorite couples, or GH’s Sam McCall. I receive the most hate mail from Sam and Jolie fans, btw.

My readers love it when… I criticize extremist fan bases, fans bashing fans or going overboard in taking a fictional character so seriously they’ll think nothing of going on the boards to imagine some evil perpetrated by the character’s portrayer, practically inventing backstage drama where there is none [and] people hate it when some [message board] regulars lord it over everybody like they’re the inside track on who to love and hate.

If I could bring one soap (day or night) back from the dead, it would be…
PORT CHARLES, so Kelly Monaco can go back as "Livvie" and "Tess" there, and leave GH alone.

If you had to give soaps one piece of advice to stem the ratings fall-off, what would it be? Go back to basics. Read any of the Tristan Rogers ("Robert Scorpio," GH), Tony Geary ("Luke Spencer," GH), Genie Francis ("Laura Weber Spencer," GH) interviews. Remember that the veterans made the soaps what they are; without them, soaps are nothing but a shell of their former selves. More inter-generational, community interaction about things that matter to viewers. Less violence and misogyny, more heart and soul…show characters CARING for one another, giving a damn, instead of reacting to big explosive events. TELL A STORY we can relate to.

Finally, if readers want to visit the site, what’s the URL? Start here, at
SoapZone’s News & Gossip page for GENERAL HOSPITAL.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Slezak Sounds Off!

Visit sister blog SoappipeOpinion to learn about what may be one of the most candid interviews by a soap veteran ever. ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Erika Slezak ("Victoria Lord Davidson")holds nothing back on the industry trends, backstage decision making, and she names names! Thanks to soap journalism great Marlena De Lacroix (her current blog, Savoring Soaps, is a must-read for anyone who loved her columns in Soap Opera Weekly) for the tip off.

Through the Looking Glass: Is Y&R the 'Australian PASSIONS'?

Perhaps it's appropriate that we Americans call Australia "Down Under," because the situation with going on with THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS there is sure to feel upside-down to U.S. soap fans.

In the U.S., CBS soap Y&R is the undisputed ratings champion in the race for total viewers--often performing a full ratings point above it's closest competitor--and has been for more than a decade. By contrast, NBC's PASSIONS, though a valuable tool for the network to reach the key 18-25 demo, is seen as an underperformer and has been pulled for a 4th hour of the TODAY SHOW, the popular (and less expensive) morning chat show.

What a difference a continental shift makes! In Australia, Y&R has been a long-running fixture on one of the country's networks. Recently, the Aussie net announced that it would be dropping the underperforming Y&R, despite its devoted and loyal fan base, giving its slot to their talk show, THE CATCH-UP.

However, in a move that many PASSIONS fans are hoping will happen here, Y&R has been snapped up by one of Australia's pay-TV (cable/satellite) great fanfare and accompanied by a press push that will bring long-time star Doug Davidson ("Paul Williams") to the land Down Under to promote the shift.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

TUDORS Premiere Delivers Record Ratings for Showtime

Showtime's premiere of period soap opera THE TUDORS drew approximately 869K total viewers for it's debut last Sunday night at 10 p.m., and an additional 404K for its 11 p.m. airing. This establishes the decadent Jonathan Rhys-Meyers vehicle as as Showtime's biggest premiere in three years, and three times the network's prime-time average. Additionally, more than a million people sampled Tudors either online or in other on-demand formats, according to Showtime.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Soaps on the Ropes? Broader Impact of Falling Soap Ratings Explored

John Consoli of MediaWeek authors "Soaps on the Ratings Ropes," exploring the changing soap ratings landscape. As a long-time industry watcher, I wish the piece had included some historical context (the advent of alternative cable programming, the year's worth of O.J. trial pre-emptions) that would have been helpful, and explored the highly relevant question of what channels like SoapNet have done for overall ratings (I would be very interested in knowing what GENERAL HOSPITAL's ratings come to when you combine the ABC showing with the ratings for each of the SoapNet repeats), but it does tackle the subject in a balanced way, noting that while soaps may not pull in the viewers they once did, they still are an efficient way to reach a valued audience, and for that reason, still draw advertisers. It's worth a read.

[Editor's Question: The ratings numbers/trends regarding the shows which have benefited from the inclusion of college students are practically the polar opposites from those featured in this Variety story a few weeks ago. If anyone knows the reason for this discrepancy, e-mail me at the address to the left.]

A substantial excerpt of the full article:

Daytime soap operas on the broadcast networks have continued their steady audience decline this year, drawing concern from media buyers who say there are still a large number of clients that want to reach the shows’ largely female viewership. But some nets at least are doing something about it.

While NBC announced earlier this year that after eight years it will pull the plug on PASSIONS this fall, the network will stick with DAYS OF OUR LIVES. And both CBS and ABC insiders say they are committed to keeping their combined seven soaps on the air. But despite the networks’ commitments, the audience shortfalls, combined with advertiser demand, have tightened the avails and driven up prices.

“We always hate paying more for less,” said Andy Donchin, executive vp and director of national broadcast for Carat USA.

“Daytime ratings are bleeding and it’s a problem for advertisers,” added Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer for GroupM, who said he wants soaps to survive, “It’s an efficient way to reach women, and if they go off the air, I can’t think of any efficient alternatives.”

Donchin agreed. “Even though I am concerned about audience falloff, it hasn’t reached a point where our clients would abandon the daypart,” he said, “The total number of viewers each day is still substantial when compared to alternatives like cable or syndication.”
To read the full article, go here.

R.I.P. DAYS' Edward Mallory

14-year DAYS OF OUR LIVES veteran Edward Mallory has died at 76, after a long illness.

Best known for playing Doctor Bill Horton on NBC's DAYS OF OUR LIVES from 1966 to 1980, Mallory also guest-starred on many television shows and directed episodes of other soaps.

TV Guide's Coleridge Talks to OLTL EP Frank Valenti senior editor Daniel Coleridge delivers again! Coleridge recently interviewed ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Executive Producer Frank Valenti in the wake of the show’s strong showing in the Daytime Emmy nominations, including for best show. Here are some of the highlights:

On OLTL’s Best Show Emmy Nomination: I'm not so much surprised as really pleased and very honored by it. We certainly feel like we deserve it. We had a wonderful year [in 2006]…we submitted the "Todd's execution" episode for best show.

On OLTL actors snubbed by Emmy’s Nominating Committees: …It's really unfortunate that Trevor [St. John, “Todd Manning,” ex-“Walker Flynn”) didn't get in there. As we all know, the best actor and actress categories are really tough and very competitive. I was surprised Michael Easton (“John McBain,” ex-“Caleb Morley, PORT CHARLES) didn't get in, too. I was really disappointed about Kassie DePaiva (“Blair Cramer Manning”) and Bree Williamson (“Jessica/Tess Buchanan”). Bree's had an incredible year and has done some amazing work [and] John Paul Lavoisier (Rex) didn't get in because he's just really funny. I don't think those kind of performances are rewarded as they should be….I feel like that's too bad, but that's the way it goes.

On whether Roger Howarth (ex-“Todd Manning,” “Paul Ryan,” AS THE WORLD TURNS) could return to OLTL: I can't really comment on contracts. I will say that we're doing our best to make sure that we do right by the audience.

On the post-departure Emmy nominations of Heather Tom (“ex-Kelly Cramer Buchanan”), who quit OLTL, and Dan Gauthier (ex-“Kevin Buchanan”), who was released from his contract around the same time: They were just phenomenal, but Heather wanted to move on and do other stuff, and I can understand that. And we were in a situation where we had to make some cuts and Dan was let go, and that's too bad. But I really hope that they win. We're behind them 100 percent. They still have a lot of friends on the show.

On Renée Elise Goldsberry (“Evangeline Williamson”): I love Renée. She's one of my favorite people on the show and she's just a tremendous actress. It's so exciting that she's being honored for her work for the second year in a row.

On Ilene Kristen (the recurring “Roxanne ‘Roxy’ Balsom”): You'll continue to see a significant amount of Ilene Kristen in the show. It's going to be fun the way you'll see us integrate her into the show more.

On the next return for Tuc Watkins (ex-“David Vickers”): Tuc's going to come back one more time for another short stint. His stay will be not too brief, but not too long. We're really lucky to be able to have him come back, and it works perfectly with the story.

Who’s the arsonist? If I told you, then it wouldn't be any fun…it's somebody significant and it will have a really nice payoff.

Read the full interview here.

Daytime's Gay Landscape to Shift With Key Comings and Goings

Daytime has come a long way from legendary scribe Douglas Marland's having to nix his original intent to make ANOTHER WORLD core character (and one of the eventual anchors of spin-off TEXAS) "Dennis Wheeler" a homosexual (the storyline was to have him discover his sexuality while in college). The past couple years have seen a daytime landscape with an unprecedented 11 Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender major characters (in key storylines) across the three networks. Though the number has dwindled somewhat (mostly due to legitimate plot requirements or an actor's departure), gay characters appear to be widely accepted in the daytime community.

The networks confirm that daytime's gay landscape is set to shift yet again with the exit of the genre's most beloved gay character and the introduction of a love interest for the character most likely to assume that title following that departure (all while soap's most avant-garde offering continues to be just that):

- Soappipe viewers will remember from Brian Frons's
earlier quotes that ALL
MY CHILDREN's groundbreaking (and controversial) storyline transgender rock star "Zarf/Zoe" (Jeffrey Carlson) and his budding realtionship with "Erica Kane" (Susan Lucci)'s lesbian daughter "Bianca (Montgomery," Eden Riegel, possibly the most beloved fictional gay character in all of network TV) will wrap up this month when both characters exit Pine Valley, and the canvas.

- "Luke Snyder" (Van Hansis), the son of teen supercouple "Holden and Lily Snyder" (John Hensley and Martha Byrne), who was the center of a year-long, gutwrenchingly realistic "coming out" storyline before fading to the backburner recently will make his way up front this Summer when Luke gets a boyfriend, a major step for daytime, which has featured its few gay characters as largely asexual to date. With the casting of soap newbie Jake Silbermann complete, expect Luke to first encounter his eventual beau at the soap's fictional TV station, WOAK.

-All this occurs as NBC's PASSIONS
moves full-steam ahead with not one, but two, gay-themed storylines featuring African-American members of two of the show's core families: As lesbian teen (who's coming out to her traditionally religious family and conservative father made for a great story as well) "Simone Russell" (portrayed by Cathy Janeen Doe), mourns the loss of her first lover, brother-in-law "Chad Harris Crane" (Charles Divins, pictured) is currently stepping-out on his wife (Simone's sister) to conduct a secret homosexual affair on the "down low," and suffering the emotional consequences of having to keep such an explosive secret (not to mention being blackmailed by both his lover and good friend--it is a soap after all.)

Also - GENERAL HOSPITAL scribe Bob Guza recently previewed the welcome return of "Lucas Jones" (namesake of the character's uncle, the legendary "Luke Spencer"), a character who's storyline was abruptly cut short by the departure of his portrayer, Ben Hogestyn, when Hogestyn was offered a leading role on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. (There's no word on whether the
popular Hogestyn, who's B&B stint has since wrapped up, will return to the role.)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Nighttime Serials Lauded With High Media Honor

UGLY BETTY and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS were honored with one of the media's most exclusive and prestigious awards, the Peabody Award.

The Peabody is awarded by the University of Georgia for over 65 years in recognition of broadcasting and cable excellence. Peabody Award winners are selected by 15 members of an exclusive advisory board of journalists and academics.

"This year the Peabody Board reviewed an amazing array of outstanding material," said Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards, "The result is that our work becomes more difficult—and more rewarding—as creators and producers of electronic media develop more and more powerful, important, and engaging work."

This year's awards will be formally given out on June 4 at the Peabody Awards ceremony hosted by broadcaster Bob Costas.

A complete list of winners is here.

'InTurn' World to Turn Again

From Reuters and the Hollywood Reporter:

CBS has ordered a second season of the original Web series INTURN in which nine young acting hopefuls compete to land a recurring role on CBS' AS THE WORLD TURNS. Slated for launch in the summer, INTURN 2 will again document the challenges of participants as they undergo screen tests, cold readings and other acting challenges while residing under the same roof. A new episode will debut on twice a week for eight weeks.

After six of the contestants are voted off by the judges -- with actors from the on-air daytime drama serving as judges -- viewers will determine the winner through an online vote. The first season of the Web-based reality show, which debuted in the summer, wound up becoming the most-streamed program of those specifically created for CBS' broadband channel Innertube.

Disney - Time Warner Pact Benefits SoapNet Viewers

Walt Disney Co. entered a multi-year, comprehensive distribution pact with Time Warner Cable that will extend retransmission consent for ABC-owned broadcast TV stations, and provide for carriage of other Disney networks (including SoapNet) and services. This secures SoapNet for many households, and extends the network to many others.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Popular U.K. Soap HOLLYOAKS to Cross the Pond

BBC America is dropping classic shows including Benny Hill and Keeping Up Appearances and bringing in popular youth-oriented soap opera HOLLYOAKS and the special effects-laden Dr. Who spin-off Torchwood as anchors of a key revamp of the increasingly popular channel (the American version of the British BBC channel). Read more here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Sudsy TUDORS Premieres to Positive Reviews

Splashy (and star-studded) period soap THE TUDORS premiered Sunday night on Showtime (though, at least for the time being, viewers without the pay-channel can view the first two episodes online by going here), and the reviews have been largely positive across the board. USA Today, gives the new serial three stars out of four. Here are some great quotes from their review:

"With lances up and shirts off, Showtime is counting on Henry VIII to make history once again....if that means turning Henry into the world's first Men's Health monarch or giving co-star billing to star Jonathan Rhys Meyers' six pack, so be it."

"Whether the effort works depends, in part, on whether viewers want a historical Masterpiece, along the lines of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, or...a soap romp with historical underpinnings, a sort of 'Desperate Monarchs'"

"Tudors can offer many a royal pleasure, starting with Rhys Meyers' lusty performance, but including a mostly excellent supporting cast, high-class production values and an entertaining script."

"[The story starts with] a still-vibrant, pre-fat Henry, just tiring of his first marriage and considering his second. The plot [leaves] plenty of room to fit in a second or third season before Henry has to turn into the corpulent, bearded bedder-and-beheader [we know]..."

"I'd say 'keep your shirt on,' but that would violate everything The Tudors stands for."

Read the full article here.

Visit the Showtime site for THE TUDORS here.

Fall Primetime Schedules Start Shaping Up With Additional Cancellations

James Hibberd updates us on how the primetime landscape is shaping up for dramas next season:

In rapid succession, a flurry of struggling shows are being yanked from the schedule. NBC’s THE BLACK DONNELLYS, the CW’s 7TH HEAVEN,” Fox’s The Wedding Bells and ABC’s SIX DEGREES have either been pulled off the air or ceased production early this week as networks reconfigure their schedules for May sweeps.

The David E. Kelley’s dramedy The Wedding Bells has ceased production, but the network plans to air three more episodes. The Friday night drama most recently earned a mere 1.4 rating among adults 18 to 49.

ABC pulled SIX DEGREES last fall, then brought back the show as a March addition to Friday nights. Its last airing earned a 1.1 rating. Repeats of Wife Swap will air in its place.

NBC’s mob drama THE BLACK DONNELLYS filled a Monday night hole vacated by STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, and has bled viewers nearly ever airing. Last night’s episode earned a 2.0 rating. Donnellys will be replaced by the reality series The Wedding Crashers.

The 7th Heaven will finish its final season, with a finale to air May 13, but will not return this fall.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Happy 51st Birthday to AS THE WORLD TURNS!

On April 2, 1956, AS THE WORLD TURNS premiered on CBS. The Proctor & Gamble show, serves (or served) as sister show to CBS's GUIDING LIGHT, NBC's SOMERSET, TEXAS, and ANOTHER WORLD and, at various times, became home to six AW characters after that show's cancellation. ATWT is up for 16 Emmys this year, including nominations for Best Directing Team, and every acting category but one. Congratulations on 51 years!

(April 2 was also the date of the premiere of the much beloved law and order soap THE EDGE OF NIGHT.)

'Guiding All My Beautiful Restless Children:' Returning to Soaps After 20 Years Away

Emmy-Winning Writer Ken Levine (Cheers, M*A*S*H, Frasier, The Simpsons) says he last spent an entire day watching daytime soaps on June 4, 1987. Recently, he sat down to do so again, and discovered what he'd been missing. Read his essay on his 'return' to daytime (entitled "Guiding All My Beautiful Resltess Children") on, here.

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