“One Life To Live” Tapes Final ABC Episode; Will the Online Show Happen?
“One Life To Live” tapes its final ABC episodes Thursday and Friday. It’s an emotional time for the cast and crew, made only more so by the show’s uncertain future. As the actors filmed their last scenes, a rumor rocked social networking sites that, due to Prospect Park’s difficulties in raising money for the the fledgling The On-Line Network, OLTL might never launch online. A representative from Prospect Park did not respond to my queries about the show’s future, but Daytime Confidential’s Jamey Giddens, who has been on top of the Prospect Park story from the beginning, tweeted, “There has been a funding snag, but just heard #OLTL will be delayed, but isn’t completely dead in water yet.”
Fans were alarmed when actors wrote about cleaning out their dressing rooms, seemingly contradicting the Soap Opera Network report that Prospect Park had leased the show’s ABC studios. Hillary B Smith tweeted, “I m here 4 my last tape day on OLTL for ABC. Last night we were told that we must remove all of our belongings from the dressing rooms.” Kassie DePaiva told Soap Opera Digest, “We’re not going to be shooting in this studio, I don’t think, so I should be cleaning, but I’m not going to do it; it’s too emotional for me.” It seems that the Soap Opera Network story may have been inaccurate. Giddens tweeted that, “The OLTL studio issue wasn’t about funding. ABC kicked em out over “legal issues.” ” In other words, with everything up in the air, ABC does not want to be responsible for anyone’s personal belongings.
The experience of filming the final episodes was draining for some actors. Eddie Alderson, (Matthew) tweeted,”That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. So upsetting.” Kristen Alderson (Starr) wrote, “@Eddie_Alderson @hbsguya & Bob’s last day today. So blessed to be with them today for it. It’s heartbreaking but so special.” Robin Strasser (Dorian), who will not be part of the finale, wrote, “This week’s been one of the hardest in my life. Tomorrow? Sorry, it’s the blackest Friday for those who love OLTL.” One note of optimism came from Smith, who tweeted, “All I ask is that you watch us to the end. There is really good stuff. And then you can turn your sets off or turn the channel.”
There Is No ABC/Prospect Park Conspiracy
Everything about the cancellations of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” has been stressful for soap fans. Now with the on-line future of the two shows seemingly in jeopardy, viewers are lashing out at Prospect Park, the company that is trying to save the shows. I have read a lot of speculation that ABC and Prospect Park are somehow conspiring together with the goal of, I guess, getting viewers’ hopes up then dashing them. I am not sure what this would accomplish. ABC definitively canceled the shows last April. The network agreed to license them to Prospect Park for one simple reason: the company offered them money for the rights to the shows. If the shows do not make it to the internet, ABC does not “succeed” at anything. If they became on-line hits then ABC will make millions in licensing fees. ABC really does not care about boycotts or people badmouthing them on Twitter. It has zero impact on the company. The network has several new hit primetime shows. As much as it pains me to write this, “The Chew’s” ratings are improving, and it may be doing as well as AMC in a few months. Truly, the network does not care enough about soap fans to launch a conspiracy against them.
Prospect Park has made numerous mistakes. The company did not initially make it clear how little financing was in place for the venture. The experienced, big time producers who run the company did not realize how difficult it would be to get entertainment companies to invest in two venerable television shows with millions of fans. Prospect Park did not realize that the entertainment industry’s perception that daytime soaps are dead could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was definitely a mistake to insist that “All My Children” end on a cliffhanger without being certain that the show would continue. Hopefully, “One Life To Live” will have an ending that will be satisfying whether or not the show continues. Prospect Park, faced with the difficult task of simultaneously painting a positive picture for potential investors and keeping fans informed, focused solely on the investors. The company did not deny the rumor that AMC was being backburnered because Susan Lucci turned down a generous offer, or offer a potential premiere date. They did not realize that if they leveled with soap fans about their struggles, they would get a million allies — a couple of whom may be venture capitalists.
However, everything else is ABC’s fault. It was ABC that canceled the soaps, giving shows that have made the network millions of dollars for over 40 years only a few months to wrap up their storylines. It was ABC that decided AMC would leave the air months before OLTL, giving Prospect Park only a couple months to negotiate deals with the actors and unions before the show wrapped. It was ABC that moved AMC to Los Angeles, uprooting the actors and destroying the cast’s morale. It was ABC that hired Chuck Pratt and allowed him to craft storylines that nearly destroyed the soap. It was ABC that assured Susan Lucci that AMC was safe right before she went on a book tour, ultimately angering the show’s biggest cheerleader to the point that she wrote a new version of her memoir sharply criticizing the network. It was ABC that treated OLTL like a red headed stepchild, causing it to undervalue the best soap on television, and cancel it right before it’s ratings rose significantly. It is ABC that is now letting “General Hospital” die. Blame the soap killer, not the flawed hero.