Deep Soap: Where Will Daytime Be in Five Years?

by | June 22, 2011 at 3:55 PM | Deep Soap, TV News

Everyone who works in or watches daytime dramas is concerned for their future. “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” have been canceled. The four remaining soaps are focused on surviving. On the Daytime Emmy red carpet, I asked actors about the current state of daytime and what they think daytime television will look like in five years.

MARIA BELL (Headwriter & Executive Producer “The Young & the Restless“)

Writers rarely do red carpet interviews. Why did you decide to do them?

It’s so great to be out, to have people celebrating daytime. After an ocean of bad news, people really need to see this as a viable form. It seemed like a really important night for all of us to stress that the fans are what matters, and the fans have a voice.

How did the Jabot product launch come about?

It’s something that had been talked about for fifteen years. The idea that those products could live in the real world, that the audience has the opportunity to buy them. I think that it’s an extraordinary partnership. We managed to team up with the greatest people in the beauty business to make exceptional products that we’re proud of. I think it will be really fun for people to feel like they’re participating in the show.

What do you think daytime television is going to look like in five years?

It could be very different. I think there will be fewer shows, although I hope not. But I think that it’s likely. I certainly feel like “Young & the Restless” is such a strong, enduring show. It will exist. Will it exist in the way we know it? I sure as heck hope so, but you never know.

KASSIE DePAIVA (Blair, “One Life to Live“)

OLTL’s been canceled and the ratings have gone up. This is unprecedented.

I joke about that. I say, “We’re just going to go straight to nighttime.” It is only going to get better. Every day they’re writing as if the show’s going off the air, which it is… Yet we get no nominations. I don’t know what it is about our show. We’ve always kind of been The Little Train That Could. Now we’re Ten Little Indians. I don’t know what it is. I don’t do it for the awards. I do it because I love it.

What do you think daytime television is going to look like in five years?

I think we’re going to go back to doing more soaps. I think ABC will take a hit and they’ll create another soap.

Stephanie Gaschet (Madison, “All My Children”)

This is the second time you’ve been on a soap that was canceled. How does what happened at “All My Children” compare to “Guiding Light”?

It’s a little different for me because I actually left “Guiding Light” about a year before the actual end. So with “Guiding Light” it was about watching all of my close friends, who I considered family, lose their jobs… This time, it really looks like daytime as a genre is dying out, as opposed to a show or two ending. It’s disheartening that the whole genre is sinking. I’m hoping that changes. I’m hoping that something can be done.

“All My Children” is strong creatively right now. Do you think that if you had another six months the show could have turned around?

I don’t know. It’s hard. Everything is so driven by economics now. Our shows are really expensive to produce. To me and all the fans out there, it’s worth it. To whoever is making these decisions, it’s about the money, unfortunately. So I don’t know if better storytelling would have saved the show financially. But I do wish we had the opportunity to get back to really good story, get it out there for a longer period of time before this happened.

JOHN ANISTON (Victor, “Days of Our Lives“)

What do you think about the new writers on Days?

I am reading the new scripts with bated breath to see what will happen. As soon as I do the scenes, then you will all know.

Are Victor and Maggie still going to have their wonderful relationship?

So far. We’ll see.

What’s the mood on the set? Are people happy Executive Producer Ken Corday decided to make bold, decisive changes?

When you make bold, decisive changes it’s always exciting.

How do you feel about the departures? You and Louise Sorel were great sparring partners?

I know. I was very sorry to hear that she was leaving. It’s the nature of the beast.

What do you think daytime television is going to look like in five years?

There’s something you can ponder because who knows what it will be. It may be all on cable. It may be on the internet. Maybe at the corner bar.

Do you think the soap opera genre will survive one way or another?

People always like to hear stories, back to caveman days. People used to sit around a fire and tell stories. The storytellers will always have a voice to do that.

ERIC MARSTOLF(Brady, “Days of Our Lives“)

What’s the overall vibe at these Emmys?

I’ve been running into people on other shows and talking about the harsh realities. It’s interesting in a way that everyone’s really upping their game right now. No one’s sitting still. No one’s accepting defeat right now. It’s really a charge. It’s a call to duty right now. We want our shows to be the best they can be because you never say never.

You worked with the new writers when you were on “Passions.” Do you think their sensibility is right for DOOL?

They wrote for “Passions” but they aren’t “Passions” writers, just as I’m an actor. I played Ethan who was as good as he can be. Now I’m as bad as I can be as Brady. Good writers can change their tonality, and they can change the way they write. “Passions” was very specific and they wrote exactly what they were supposed to for that show. It worked for ten years. They also wrote for Days as well. I think they have their eye on the ball, as far as bringing back family values. I’ve already seen subtle changes in the scripts within the last week or two. Fans are going to love what’s going on.

What do you think daytime television’s going to look like in five years?

I think the lighting’s going to change. I think the sets are going to be more extravagant. I think everybody’s stepping up to the plate and you’ve got to put money in to get product out. The stories are going to be more integrated. Everything that people love about soaps is going to happen.

Could different shows working together save the genre?

There’s always strength in numbers. When you combine them together you have a really powerful force… The fans are going to have to get really proactive. If they band together, they can make change.