Soap Operas and Business, American & International Pt.2

Don book cover.jpgHey, Soap/LTAS Fans! Hope you’re all doing well and NEVER giving up on all soaps, near and far! As promised, here is the second part of our interview with business, advertising, author, and soap expert, Dr. Donald Boudreau.  Have you ever wondered how much money the networks make or could make from the international soap opera market.  Wonder no more..read on.  :)

Dr. Donald G. Boudreau is an internationally recognized expert in the field of economic statecraft and is the author of several books, including American Business and Daytime Dramas (Smashwords, 2012).  He and his wife, Zoraida de (together with their two dogs and two parakeets) are happily building their new home in a small coastal fishing town that serves as a gateway to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

LTAS: So far we’ve talked about soaps in the context of their domestic audience only? We know that American soap operas have had big international audiences for a long time, and thus the networks have/had big money to make there. If you were a network’s head of daytime programming, how would you handle the international audience?
DB: In my book American Business and Daytime Dramas, an entire essay is devoted to the international appeal of soap opera. In this regard, it is noteworthy that a show such as “The Bold and The Beautiful” in recent years has been deemed the most popular soap opera currently for its success domestically and internationally. This is a show that can be seen in more than 110 countries and garnered more than 24.5 million viewers worldwide in 2008, making it more watched than any telenovela or soap opera on television, according to the Guinness. It is also noteworthy that in France, “One Life to Live” did in fact have a brief stint during 1987‐1988,airingunder the name” On ne vit qu’une fois” which means “You Only Live Once.” Reportedly as well, “Loving” was big in Italy along with “Guiding Light,””Days of our Lives” in Australia, “Santa Barbara” in Armenia. “As the World Turns” is very popular in The Netherlands. And no wonder it is much to its credit, Proctor & Gamble is working hard in creating new soaps for Turkey and other Arab nations that are sweeping the Middle East with a view to marketing their suite of products throughout such, thanks to its worthwhile product placement and product integration techniques, if only major television networks take to wisely emulating the same. All of which raises the questions of what international syndication, international product placement, and international product integration opportunities the major United States television networks have heretofore to the present day yet failed to exploit through its valuable soap opera franchises? Why not be using platforms such as popular American soap operas like” One Life to Live” and “All My Children” in a similar manner per the aforementioned proven successful business model for “The Bold and the Beautiful.”? For the many ABC Disney shareholders’ interests, one wonders just how much in profits has been sacrificed, and over how many years, by senior ABC Disney executives not taking full international business advantage wisely of these valuable soap opera franchises thanks to abysmal management decisions taken including among others, cancelling them (One Life and All My Children)domestically, failing to exploit them successfully internationally, “replacing them” for a litany of in some cases, pricey, soon failed talk shows a la Katie, all failing to recapture the significant loyal market share soap opera audience followings lost, via the rank ill-conceived cancellations? Powerfully witness, too, that CBS has long taken advantage of airing soaps in French in Canada ala Days, unlike the ABC soaps. And, there you have it. There is so much work to be done now by ABC and the other networks, and lucrative new growth markets to be had for the taking.

LTAS: As of this writing, fans are working busily every day to get “Dallas” back on TV after it was resurrected and then cancelled again (on TNT). “Dynasty” is said to be making a 2015 comeback. How do you explain the fact that these nighttime soaps haven’t lost their audiences in 20 years?
DB: The cancelling of Dallas by TNT has unleashed an international uproar by fans on Twitter and other social media that is nothing short of impressive. Just earlier in November 2014, there was a Super Tweetathon that began in New Zealand and was held for 6 hours worldwide. Much has been written regarding Warner Brothers Pictures efforts being made with a view to Saving Dallas and The Globe Magazine has stepped up also with its campaign supporting fans efforts in this regard. Moreover, there was the Save Dallas European Tweetathon with its separate respective starting times for the European Union, United Kingdom, and United States that drew much attention and support to the cause. Andyes, Dynasty is reportedly being slated for a possible comeback. To what are we to attribute this phenomenon of strong staying power of fans supporting so‐called nighttime, primetime soap operas? Storytelling is a primordial basic human needs engrained in our very core of existence. it is what distinguishes us as people, we have stories to tell. All of these fans are sending messages to the networks and to all of the corporate advertisers who are listening. Deliver to the fans the entertainment what they are clamoring for, and their buying patronage and loyalty will reciprocally flow riches into the hands of your companies shareholders and corporate advertisers. That is the very proposition now set forth that waits for appropriate action to be taken by the networks and production companies forthwith. Networks and production companies need to pay heed in addressing these powerful consumer demands being made by vocal viewing audiences for good scripted, storytelling, classical American soap operas. These are the many millions of viewers who have been overly saturated with the lowest common denominator reality food and weight reduction show offerings entertainment. Quality storytelling is timeless, and will always win out in the end, as people continue demanding their stories presence in their living rooms. The pendulum is now swinging back into that rightful direction bring with it new business opportunities for growth aplenty, both domestically and in international markets.

LTAS: From an economic point-of-view, what would it mean for New York City to have AMC and OLTL return to production there?
DB: Regarding New York City, it is noteworthy that during the course of a livingthedream.mom.com podcast on Tuesday, May26, 2011. the widely respected actor Jerry ver Dorn, in recent years known for his work in playing the role of Clint Buchanan in “One Life to Live” observed that in 1978 when he first arrived on the scene in Manhattan, there were 3 networks producing 15 soap operas! Today, there are none, thank you ABC/Disney et al. Having One Life to Live and All My Children return to production in New York City would bring many jobs and economic benefits to ABC Disney shareholders, to New York City and New York state, and to the many ancillary businesses operating in the New York metropolitan region that would be positively affected by their presence. In my book American Business and Daytime Dramas, an entire essay is devoted to the manner in which the presence of soap opera in New York City long historically and successfully served as a training ground, a feeder system if you will, for the many talented actors and actresses who have go onto become blockbuster talents in today’s Hollywood movies and on the Broadway stage. This was no accident, and it was no small treasure, and yes it can be replicated no win force, and by orders of magnitude with new investment bringing good steady returns for the ABC Disney Company and its shareholders. There are many avenues open for more efficiently, economically producing these soap operas than heretofore had existed in past years, and ABC Disney is well positioned to take advantage of such opportunities given its rather impressive preexisting resource and infrastructure and skills bases, its significant footprint in New York City and let us not forget its production facilities in the surrounding boroughs as well.

LTAS: LTAS and the Save Our Soaps (SOS) movement as a whole are in the process of re-directing a coupon campaign to persuade the already-receptive DirecTV to create an exclusively soap opera-based channel. What that be a good move, business-wise, for DirecTV? Why or why not?
DB: Actually, I think it would be a good business move for DirecTV or for other takers with the necessary resources. In recent years, we have seen a proliferation of networks specializing their offerings based on viewing audience preferences. Here in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, for example, Me TV offers a wide range of nostalgic television show offerings that have a large and significant following. There are all types of network and cable shows today catering to more specialized viewing audiences than at any time in the past based on consumer preferences (e.g., crime related and law enforcement, foods, hobbies, sports, dress and fashion, homes and real estate, travel and leisure activities, etc.) and there is no end in sight it seems to me. The network or networks that are successfully able to create a forum whereby legions of fans of these many soap shows can take advantage of viewing these substantial catalogs, on a day‐to‐day basis, stand to realize significant revenues by monetizing these longstanding consumer loyalties to these shows. Millions upon millions of soap opera fans will buy the product lines advertising on, and thus underwriting, these shows continuing successes as such. Too many of these shows catalogs are now tragically lying dormant, gathering dust on company shelves, and this situation needs to be reversed, and sooner rather than later one hopes to be the case.

LTAS From a business point of view, do you think networks can simply air reality-based programing in time slots once occupied by daytime serials and hope for the profits and fan loyalty that latter once brought them?

DB: I am not here to demonize reality television as I have and do, on occasion, like many people enjoyed watching as how such as for example, Next Great Baker or another food, restaurant‐themed like show. But I believe that that pendulum has swung to an extreme level due to network group think. As some observers have noted, much of so called reality programming is, in fact, very much scripted and rehearsed programming, too. But the human condition cries out with certain basic, primordial needs which it craves and storytelling is one such critical need that soap opera programming, not just here in the United States but internationally, is the most dominant form of such that we find in the world today. Millions of American fans of American soap opera gravely miss All My Children and One Life to Live and they and their families and friends continue boycotting ABC and Disney, until such time that those shows are returned to the airwaves. One need look no further than social media protests that remain powerful forces in advertising their support for these shows clamoring for ABC Disney to take the necessary corrective actions with a view toward settling the protracted litigation with Prospect Park, and bringing these shows back to the their respective fan bases forthwith, and uniting those fan bases back to supporting ABC/Disney’s network and its ancillary businesses and its many corporate sponsors tied to supporting such shows programming. I find myself in near constant awe and feeling tremendous respect toward the All My Children and One Life to Live Save Our Soaps movement, its many leaders and its millions of supporting fans, nationwide. How can one not have been moved by the haunting image of one soaps activist Nathan Brookshire, standing on the side walk of a road in a town in America with traffic passing by, holding up a placard sign supporting these shows? How can one not be moved by the longstanding dedication and hard work evidenced by the team of unbeatable great ladies all, tied to producing Let’s Talk About Soaps (“LTAS”) out of Brooklyn, New York including among others, the show’s co‐hosts Cheneise Carey‐Beebe, Stella Winston, the noted songstress Alura Johnson, behind‐the‐scenes and always hard at work executive producer Tessa K. McKenzie, director Bernice Brook, and you, yours truly their phenom blogger, scribe Akbi Khan? How can one not be moved by the hours of heartfelt YouTube videos produced by LTAS’ Cheneise as she rightly and relentlessly hammers ABC Disney and its senior executives calling them out by name and deed, for their rank misguided, disastrous corporate decisions made by cancelling these two iconic American soap operas; shows, that had long been profitable ventures for the network for many decades, thus having provided the financing for so many of its historical prime time television successes? How can one not be moved by the heart wrenching YouTube videos produced by Tina Byrd Payne powerfully demonstrating how significant these shows are; the useful ongoing role that they play in fans and their families lives year‐after‐year? And too, do not forget her admirably selfless generosity in organizing the producing of actor Michael Easton calendars, again and again, selflessly supporting with so many other soap fans the good work of the American Cancer Society. Who has produced more astute, brilliant legal commentary regarding the ongoing, seemingly never ending ABC‐Prospect Park litigation than the wonderful Spin’s Vixenella, thanks to her talented presence on Twitter, in particular? Look at the leadership role in the soaps movement played by someone such as Shawn Brady of Soap Fans United, including among many others, how could one not be moved? Powerfully witness the work of so many of the soap journalists such as, among so many others, Nanci Hughes, of the New York Soap Opera Examiner, as a wonderful fan of these shows and a great supporter in the forefront of the Save Our Soaps (“SOS”) movement. Look at Canadian soap journalist, Nelson Branco, and his daring bravery and journalistic integrity in publicly and selflessly defending these shows in the face of their nasty cancellations. How can one not be moved? How cannot be moved by the acutely perceptive business observations, brought to bear by one John Larsen of New York City, he being no stranger to New York daytime television production, also known as Midnighter on Facebook and Twitter, as he powerfully lectures ABC Disney, in precise, hefty dollar figures, on its rank failed business economics case in cancelling these two shows and foolishly supporting talk shows (some pricey) that have in short order tanked in the ratings and been forced from the airways by relentless, boycotting soap fans nationwide refusing to watch them? How can one not come away impressed with the substantial body of work analytically crafted by the talented Michael Fairman of Michael Fairman Soaps in addressing the many thorny issues, tied to these two shows and their respective casts, since their infamous cancellations by ABC/Disney? How can one not be moved by the likes of Travis Stair creatively supporting, through his many Facebook postings, his unwavering conviction of One Life To Live as the greatest television show, ever? The problem with singling people out, with the naming of names of leaders and noted fans is, of course, that one will always fail to recognize many deserving contributors to the Save Our Soaps movement and its day‐to‐day work who too, are equally worthy of being duly recognized. To name but a few more, Marc Anthony Ouckama, Andrea Kollo, Denise Quinones, Heather Chajko, Mike Wahl, Tony R. Curtis, Mary Amos, Trevor Mcbain, Edna Jackson Barefoot, Toure T. Cannon, and Karim El Masri. How can one not be moved by the useful contributions made to these shows and this genre by the well respected Carolyn Hinsey of Soap Opera Digest fame and Mr. Dan J. Krol of Soaps Central Live? And, do not forget the indefatigable work of Richard M. Simms, the executive editor of Soaps In Depth magazine. They are, individually and collectively, a powerful, formidable force to be reckoned with along with the countless other Facebook pages, leaders and supporting fans there and on Twitter and related soap blogs and magazines and radio shows, too. Each and every one, mentioned here and not due to space and time limitations, have been core, critical to the success that is the contemporary soaps movement, aimed at rectifying this rank injustice and bringing the respect and honor due this genre by the entertainment industry writ large.

LTAS: It’s been a tough few years for soap fans. Do you believe, as we at LTAS do, that soaps, like Phoenix, will rise from the ashes triumphant? Could there be a second Dr. Donald Boudreau book about 2015 as the year American business AND daytime drama won?
DB: The legendary American baseball outfielder and pitcher, Babe Ruth, once observed that “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” And, somehow and someway ABC Disney and its daytime programming decision makers it seems to me must come to grips with this inexorable reality and get on with the business of countermanding and reversing these misguided program cancellations. The many millions of dedicated American soap opera fans of All My Children and One Life To Live are the very people that Babe Ruth was referring to as they do not give up. It needs to be understood by myopic television network programming decision makers, special note of each and every television network that soap opera and its audiences are anything but myopic or stove piped in their decision making and loyalties. These are the same and one consumers who will loyally buy the sponsors products when they visit their supermarkets and stores nationwide. These are the same and one customers who will plan their weddings and family celebrations and vacations on Disney cruises and at Disney’s entertainment venues. These are the same and one fans who will be coming to the soap fan weekends, patronizing all of the related businesses while there. It is they who will be bringing their children and their grandchildren to the company’s latest movie releases. The soap opera fans customer loyalty is not to be taken for granted, and accordingly, such will be richly reciprocated in turn. They are consumers, customers, and fans, all of these things and you marginalize ‐ or ignore them ‐‐or, but pay them lip service, at your career and the company’s peril. And yes, finally, if ABC Disney one day soon has a corporate epiphany, coming full circle, and doing the right thing for its loyal national television viewing audience, resurrecting these vintage shows to their rightful throne son Manhattan Island (and please, Luna Moody’s Soaps Goddess, may it be with none other than Cartini at the helm!), then yes, I can certainly envision writing another tome commending them for such, at long last. That actually would be my personal pleasure and a sequel worth penning. “Thank you” great ladies of Let’s Talk About Soaps for having me here with you once again, take care and be well and finally, keep on keeping on, in keeping the SOS faith alive. See you next time and happy holidays to all. Best wishes as ever, D)

Stay tuned, soap/LTAS fans! Now you’ve heard from Dr. Boudreau on the foreign soap market. Next week we will have a Spanish soap fan who will tell us all about American soap operas and their popularity in Spain!  And as ALWAYS, Stay Soapy! Subscribe (upper right corner) and comment away!

Your Editor,

Akbi Khan




A Legal Counsel Explains the ABC/PP Lawsuit in Detail

prospect park picHello, Soap Fans! Lets Talk About Soaps recently sought legal counsel from, Troy Veenstra. We asked him some questions about the ABC/Prospect Park lawsuit and its implications. Here are our questions and his answers. Veenstra is also the author of a book titled, “The Murder of Jeffrey Dryden: the Grim Truth Surrounding Male Domestic Abuse,” available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

LTAS: First of all, Troy, we at LTAS want to thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview and demystify a lot of the legal issues involved in the ABC/Prospect Park lawsuit and its implications for us.

LTAS (Lets Talk About Soaps): So, to placate the viewers and attempt an end to the boycotts of their products, did Disney said they had leased the rights to “All My Children” (AMC) and “One Life to Live (OLTL) to Prospect Park?

Troy Veenstra (TV): This statement is partially correct, whether or not it was to “placate” the viewers I cannot legally say one way or the other, but ABC did lease the rights to AMC and OLTL to Prospect Park Production. The original licensing agreement between ABC and Prospect Park first entered into in July 2011, after the network cancelled the two long-running soaps, gave Prospect Park twelve months to put together online versions of the shows. Prospect Park would then have the exclusive right to produce fifteen seasons of each show. In Jan 2012, the agreement was amended to also state that, “If Prospect Park Productions did not produce the shows for 18 straight months, the rights of AMC and OLTL would immediately revert back to ABC, which Disney does own.

LTAS: Is Prospect Park owned by Disney?

TV: According to the IRS, and Public Records of ownership, The Disney Corporation does not own Prospect Park Productions, nor does any of its subsidiaries. In fact the only property that Disney owns that even sounds close to Prospect Park Productions is Prospect Park Studios, which is not part of Prospect Park Productions. That said, several former employees of Disney own Prospect Park Productions, but there is no paper trail that shows otherwise.

LTAS: Now, Prospect Park is suing Disney, and then—what a coincidence—Prospect Park goes into bankruptcy. But, there is supposedly still an ongoing lawsuit for the rights of AMC and OLTL.

TV: Prospect Park Productions is suing ABC, not Disney (I know you think they are one of the same by ownership but legally speaking they are two different entities). As for Prospect filing for bankruptcy that is also true, and as far as the fact that the lawsuit is ongoing for the rights of AMC AND OLTL, this is also true as the lawsuit was started by Prospect Park Productions, and their bankruptcy is only a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (reorganization) instead of a Chapter 7 (full out bankruptcy).

LTAS: And I don’t understand how can there be a lawsuit with a company who has filed for bankruptcy, as Prospect Park has.

TV: First off, a chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to the United States Bankruptcy Code, states that a debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. Thus this all for the company to stay afloat while also try to pay those business they may owe huge amounts to in partial payments rather than full payments. Secondly, though as you obviously know, The Bankruptcy Code halts pending litigation against companies who file for bankruptcy. Often companies will file for bankruptcy for this very reason, as litigation costs and liabilities pile up. However, if the lawsuit was initiated by the company that filed for bankruptcy, suing another company, the lawsuit can continue, as this helps maximize value for creditors, a main goal of bankruptcy, because creditors will also benefit if the company in bankruptcy is successful in the litigation. Thus, because Prospect Park Productions started the lawsuit against ABC before filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the lawsuit can continue forward as the other creditors that are owed funds by Prospect Park Productions have a better chance of getting their funds paid if Prospect Park wins their case.

LTAS: Do the details of the lawsuit demonstrate that it is just a smoke screen to keep soap fans off ABC’s back?

TV: Unfortunately, as this is an ongoing case, getting actual court records of the inner workings is impossible, as each party is only privy to that information until the case is resolved.

 Now with all this said I cannot legally tell you that there is some scam going on between ABC, Prospect Park Productions, and the Disney Corporation as the information just isn’t there to show it. However, as a professional author, who has written his own conspiracy theories in the past, I would say that it’s a bit suspicious that the owners of Prospect Park Productions are former employees (head employees I might add) of the Disney Corporation… that I find kind of odd… but again legally I’ve done all I can for you.

LTAS: In a law suit, can both parties keep the lawsuit going forever, or they can just decide to settle and close the law suit overnight. Is this correct?

TV: A lawsuit can go on for sometime, until either the judge handling the case gets tired and demands otherwise, or both parties can decide to come to some agreement and request the lawsuit be terminated. But it can be officially terminated only by the plaintiff (the one that brought the suit up in the first place)

LTAS I just have one final question. As the rights of AMC and OLTL were reverted back to ABC, is there any legal reason that the law suit could prevent ABC from producing the soaps or airing them? I mean, I remember a few years back they had a law suit with General Hospital, but that did not affect the shooting or the programming of General Hospital.

TV: If the rights were reverted back to ABC than no, there’s no reason they couldn’t restart the programs.

LTAS: Once again, thank you so much for consenting to do this interview and providing us with such valuable information. We really appreciate your time and expertise!

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And thank you, soap fans, for reading. Remember to comment, subscribe (in the upper left-hand corner), and most of all,

STAY SOAPY!

Your Editor,

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Akbi Khan

DirecTV Considering Creation of Soap Channel!

Direct TV logoIn 2007 DirecTV bought the rights to air Passions from NBC, hoping to target a soap audience. Why? Because they have been targeting soap fans for years, knowing how loyal, passionate, and dedicated we are. Now they simply want insurance of sorts that if they create a channel for our soaps, there will be support for it.

For us soap fans, DirecTV would be an ideal dwelling for our soaps. Not only would we not be at the behest of ABC/Disney and other broadcast networks, who have shown little if any interest in the desires of soap fans, but we would be giving over care of our soaps to a channel that has shown such an interest.

A simple way to show DirecTV our passion and loyalty would be to imitate the coupon campaign started by various groups involved in the Save Our Soaps movement, and to create a Facebook group named something akin to “I Would Pay DirecTV to Air My Soaps.”

Now we have a specific company interested in us and what we want! Another way to show DirecTV our interest in their picking up our soaps is to use Facebook and Twitter to post and Tweet about it.

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/directv

https://twitter.com/DIRECTV

Write to Direct TV (fill out this form).

https://support.directv.com/app/ask

For the soap fans who prefer to use a template to sent to directv we compose one for you below, you can just copy and paste..

To Whom It May Concern:

 

My name is ___________.

 

I am writing to you to express my unequivocal support for the creation of a DIRECTV channel dedicated to showing daytime serials that the networks have foolishly abandoned. These include, most recently, All My Children and One Life to Live, but there are many more, as you undoubtedly know. Soap fans are a large, loyal, and dedicated fan group. We will not let you down. Know that if you create such a channel it will have millions of viewers immediately. And I am one of them.

Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,

________________________

From Shawn Brody (leader of Fans United) interview in regard of Soap Net:

DirecTV was one of the last bastions for SOAP Net. DirecTV promised soap fans early on they would not pull the plug on SOAP Net until they were absolutely forced to by Disney, and they were good to their word and maintained SOAP Net until Disney stopped the network feed. DirecTV was attuned to what soap fans wanted.

So let’s do it, soap fans! Let’s make directv our new home for our soap channel.

Comment below, subscribe (in the upper right-hand corner), post on Facebook, and Tweet about this.

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As always, stay soapy!

Follow The Money (“Making the viewer’s voices heard”)

follow the money the networkI’ve talked before about the casual dismissal with which television networks routinely treat the stated desires of their viewing audience, and how baffling this is in light of the fact that these audiences are ultimately the networks’ source of income (since advertisers flee when their products are not purchased). I’d like to expand on that point, if I might, by addressing the impact of this dynamic on relevant economies. For there is a tendency among networks when canceling popular television programs – including, of course, beloved soap operas, Primetime such as The Desperate House Wife, Brother and Sister – to blame their decision on poor economic conditions. The sheer small-minded shortsightedness of this argument is nothing less than staggering.

To begin with, a bad economy equals a boom for television, for the simple reason that it’s cheap. People with large amounts of discretionary income opt for costly forms of entertainment, including fine restaurants, night clubs, and tourist attractions. But when that money dries up, two pastimes rise to the fore: TV shows and movies – with the latter being a luxury enjoyed only sparingly in comparison to the former. So, that “bad economy” television networks are whining about? They should be thrilled.

 Moreover, by strengthening the television industry, an opportunity is created to revitalize the economy in general. Television production (such as the soap operas) does not occur in a vacuum. In addition to the obvious employment of people like actors and directors, there are caterers, security firms, restaurants – a virtually uncountable array of businesses which become employed by the demand for services of a production project. This is no trifling sum of money; especially when factoring in the boost from the so-called “bad” economy, we are talking about billions of dollars in revenue for local enterprise. The effect of this is self-evident, but I’ll state it anyway: The economy gets stronger.

 This is why, while the ultimate decision to conduct or to stop production rests with the networks, some of the factors affecting it are controlled by government officials. They are the ones most directly concerned with stimulating the economy, and it is their policies that can encourage or discourage the making of TV shows. Tax incentives, less stringent regulation, modest industry subsidies – all of these are valid and workable ideas for persuading networks to keep production going. And it all starts with us, dear friends. We are the ones who must remind the networks and the government how the economy really works, and that its machinations ultimately begin and end with us. Money talks, and there is no ear on Earth that can ignore the sound of the people’s money when that sound grows loud enough. So let’s make some noise!

Eternalendrea.

Comment, subscribe (upper right-hand corner), and let’s dish, discuss, and commiserate!

 

 

Related Posts, Soap Opera’s and Politics.

Follow The Money, (pt. 1 The Network)

How The Internet Is Eating TV Alive

Soap Box

An Interview with Cole Bell, Soap Fan…and Warrior

Coleman Bell, 38, founded the organization Fans United Against ABC (FU-ABC) and joined the administrative team of Protest ABC Across America four days after it was founded both in 2011 when ABC unceremoniously cancelled All My Children (AMC) and One Life to Live (OLTL). Here are his thoughts on the state of soaps, among other things, 3 years after our stories were taken from us (then given back and taken away again!). Stayed tuned until the end of his fascinating interview for an interview with Cole conducted by LTAS at one of the ABC protests in 2011. And always remember to stay soapy!

by Akbi Khan

 

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Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got interested in soaps? How did you feel/react when you heard ABC was canceling AMC and OLTL?

Sure-About me-I grew up in Miami, FL in the 1980’s, the oldest of an extended family of 11 kids, so there has always been an element of having to be able to get a lot of people to listen to me at the same time effectively in my personality-when you have that many younger siblings it is necessity more then desire to be heard, let me tell you!  

I got interested in soaps because my mom used them as a reward for me-because I was the only one she could get to help her do the laundry, we would fold laundry while we watched the day’s episodes of OLTL and AMC which she had taped.  I have vague recollections of watching soaps befor that as well, with my great great grandmother (who lived until I was ten) and watching Y&R and GL with her, but I don’t remember any of the plotlines until OLTL-the earliest I remember is Victor’s will missing the last page and Tina coming to Viki and then taking over Llanfair when Viki split personalities.  I was OBSESSED with Andrea Evans’ Tina and it was around that time that I discovered I had some talent myself, and got bit by the acting bug.  I often credit Andrea’s work with getting me through some of the hardest experiences of my younger years (Getting into New World School of the Arts-and later getting through college with my degree in Theater Arts.)   I wanted desperately to get on to OLTL and play CJ Roberts!  I don’t think I would have ever made it through school without Andreas inspired performances to push me to be always the best actor I could!   

We at LTAS were always in awe at the way you and your colleagues organized protests against ABC/Disney in 35 states?Can you say a little about the process of doing so—the challenges, anything that pleasantly surprised you?

Okay’ lets give credit where it is due here-I was only one of so many inspired people working together at the time-Rhonda Kennedy, Erin Hart, Shawn Brady Mary Dunn, Darlene January, Spins Vixenella, Flo, Nathan, Paula-so many of us who lead our own groups now were a part of the original Protest ABC Across America administrator team and we ALL contributed so much to the movement in those days-it has been a while and we have different ideas about how to do things today, but one of the best parts of the 22 city protests (round 1 and 2) was that each of us just dove in and got our hands dirty working with whatever needed to be done.  The unfounded and false accusations about that group and mismanagement of funding were tossed in at the worst possible time, and when the group imploded and we had to go in and remove manually each member who had joined (you couldn’t just delete a FB group back then) it was one of the most painful moments we experienced.  Nathan and I  both created groups to fill the void, and as we appealed to vastly different audiences, we were logical choices to keep the movement going-but our strength as a unified movement has always been our best quality-our unity of purpose-that is what has always made me so proud-that all these groups and leaders and, let’s face it’ EGO’S are able to come together and see the greater good and keep our eye on the ball and the prize.  We are all here because of our love of the genre, and we have never forgotten that.

My colleague at LTAS, David Arwood, recently wrote a blog post (titled, “Stand for Soaps” at letstalkaboutsoaps.com)about how the return of soaps to NYC would bring 40,000 jobs and $4 billion in revenue there. Can you explain some of the ways that bringing soap production—AMC and OLTL, certainly, but even ATWT, AW, and GL—back to NYC would help the NYC economy? 

Well. not just the economy-the “soap factory” is such a great proving ground for actors as a whole.  You get some of the strongest talent anywhere on daytime-and there is no harder job for an actor.  I don’t know many people who can be handed 40, 50 , 60 pages of dialogue the night before and be off book and camera ready the next day!  While I can’t speak to the numbers David cites, I can tell you this-the average soap shoots at a cost of approximately $1million/week in NYC and employs around 200 people full time.  This doesn’t include under fives, extras, special effects crews that come in for pyro or water shots, location shoots, or anything like that.   My best estimation is that the shows employ around 5000 persons each when all that is included annually.  Now, each of those people lives somewhere, eats somewhere, many have partners or spouses and children who also work and go to school in the area…there are events to attend, clothes to be used through things like Studio Services at stores like Bloomingdale’s, hair and makeup teams-and all of these people who earn their salaries in NYC then spend money living in the NYC area-there are truly billions of lost dollars there.  But for me, the biggest losses we are experiencing are artistic opportunities which are now gone in NYC.  Some of our best and brightest minds are going to follow the money out west to LA or south to Atlanta or North to Connecticut, where production and jobs are more plentiful.

It was a truly brilliant move to get the unions involved in the 2011 protests and boycotts. Can you talk about the status of the unions’ involvement at this time in the boycotts? 

The Unions were happy to help us protest the loss of jobs and the end of an era in NYC in particular-PAAA was so fortunate to have people like Cat Hickland, Ilene Kristen, Robin Strasser, Jill Larson, Colleen Zenk and Nathaniel Marston join us for some much needed star support.  It was largely due to their involvement with the fan movement that we were able to get the unions on board.   For all the love soap fans give the stars-our special stars return it a thousand fold-it is one of the most beautiful fan/star relationships in entertainment.  Daytime stars are so accessible and open to fans and supportive and appreciative of fan love-it is amazing to watch!

We at LTAS now want to take this fight to the Mayor’s and Governor’s offices? How would you, Cole Bell, go about this?  

I would start with a plan-a solid production plan and a plan for financing the shows that is feasible and realistic. Bringing these shows back to NYC is going to cost money-and a lot of it, so there needs to be a clear plan on HOW it is going to happen and a strong breakdown of how it is going ot be financed.   Both the mayor and governor are huge proponents of bringing industry into NY, and would, in my opinion, be supportive of a production model that would bring in new jobs.

You and your colleagues back in 2011 started the advertiser boycotts, and they are still going strong in many respects. Can you suggest some ways to show the advertisers that if they support the soaps, we support them; if not, we boycott them (cost them money)?

For me, this is a back to basics sort of idea.   I am actually in need of a new vacuum right now, and I am waiting to save up for a Hoover canister vac with a pet attachment, because I will always be grateful to Hoover for their support of us!   I have been so very aware of things like not supporting Disney  and maintained my resolve in the boycotts of so many products like Hershey and reinforced my purchasing of products like Neutrogena (who advertised on the reboots!) Keep sending copies of receipts to companies you USED to support when you now purchase their competitors product, and send Thank You notes to companies like Hoover and Neutrogena and Nestle who have supported us!  Written notes carry so much weight, and are always appreciated by companies when they are supportive and positive.   Also, take a photo of yourself at checkout with the products you NOW buy INSTEAD of those who advertise on Disney/ABC/Lifetime/ESPN etc.   Also, if it is within your budget to do so, buy a share of Disney stock and go to the shareholders’ meeting.   Sign up to speak and share your discontent at the lack of quality scripted daytime programming like OLTL on their networks compared to a few years ago.   When shareholders speak, companies listen, and when enough shareholders filibuster a shareholders meeting so nothing else can get done, companies get fed up and will cave to the demands of their shareholders.

And finally, can you give a little last push of inspiration to the fans, now that we are on the brink of getting the soaps back? If you had to guess, which network would bring its soaps back first?

How can I inspire you guys, when it has always been you who have inspired me?   Your constant love for the genre, relentless loyalty to these shows and our extended family of fans have made this movement all worthwhile to me.  These shows mean so much to so many people, and I would be so happy to see them coming back on our screens where they belong-Keep the Faith, Keep the Pressure on and stand strong together.   Keep calling ABC, keep calling Disney, keep the conversation going and we will see the results we desire.   Only if we persevere and keep a true and steady course can we succeed!   But I feel that ABC is on the verge of making a grand gesture to fans to try to get us back-and NBC will follow.   I think CBS will be the last to come around-but it is anyone’s guess!   

Keep up the good work, friends!   And always remember that we ALL only have ONE LIFE TO LIVE-so make it worth living-stand up and be counted!

Cole Bell at the SOS Rally, 2011

Remembering America’s Longest Running Soap: “Guiding Light”

David Arwood

David Arwood

June 30, 2014 mark 62 years since America’s longest running soap opera began its run on American television. That soap opera was “Guiding Light” and for the next 57 years, the Bauers, the Spauldings, the Reardons, the Coopers and many more came into homes each day to entertain, to teach and to offer comfort and support.

 “Guiding Light” was one of the first programs to air on the new invention of television, but it actually pre-dates television. “Guiding Light” began as a radio serial on January 25, 1937 on NBC Radio and was transferred to CBS Radio on June 2, 1947 before making the leap to CBS television on June 20, 1952. That’s where it remained until September 18, 2009. For that 57 years, millions of Americans tuned in each day to follow the trials and tribulations of their “Guiding Light” family. Over the years, -those viewers were taken on a ride through the history of soap operas.

By the time of its last broadcast “Guiding Light” was the longest running soap opera ever aired in America and the fourth longest running television show in American broadcast history. With the demise of many of the soaps that arrived on the scene shortly after “Guiding Light” and with the constant threat hanging over the remaining soaps, it is no stretch of the imagination to think that “Guiding Light” will forever be the longest running soap in history.

 “Guiding Light” is soap history. It was created by the legendary mother of soap operas, Irna Phillips. It was Phillips who single handedly created the soap opera genre and sold that concept to international power house Procter & Gamble, who eagerly promoted the genre in order to have a captive audience to advertise their products to, especially the flag ship product, Ivory Soap. This is where the soaps get their name, and “Guiding Light” was a mainstay of Procter & Gamble productions until its final air date.

 Phillips ruled “Guiding Light” with an iron fist until she left to work on her next creation “As the World Turns” at which point her protégé, Agnes Nixon took over as head writer. Readers of this blog will know that Nixon went on to create “All My Children” and “Another World” and “One Life to Live.” Phillips also served as mentor to another soap giant, Bill Bell, who created “Young & the Restless” and “Bold & the Beautiful.” With its rich history and role as incubator to the soap greats, “Guiding Light” is responsible for all soaps that came after, and all soap fans owe a debt of gratitude to “Guiding Light” whether they ever watched it or not.

 “Guiding Light” not only represented the rise and fall of soaps, but it also tracked the changing landscape of America over the years. When viewers tuned into “Guiding Light” in 1952 they had faces to put with the character voices they had become accustomed to on radio and they followed the lives and challenged faced by middle class immigrant families similar to their own. The Bauers, led by German immigrant Papa Bauer, quickly became household names, at least in households headed by women who would not miss their favorite soap. “Guiding Light” quickly became number one in the ratings, in large part because Phillips. CBS and Procter & Gamble never shied away from topics that were viewed as controversial for their time. Alcoholism, neglect, the pressures faced by women in the 1950’s who yearned for more opportunities, and those faced by men who were expected to provide for family and be “Father Knows Best” were all on display on the little black and white TV screens in homes from Maine to California.

 “Guiding Light” kept up the intensity through the 1960’s when the writers introduced the first African-American characters to reflect the changes in an American society that was grappling with the issue of Civil Rights. It was also in the 1960’s that “Guiding Light” first aired in color and expanded from 15 minutes per day to 30 minutes each afternoon. In the 1970’s, “Guiding Light” once again changed with the times and introduced many younger characters to capture the youth audience that other and newer soaps were going after.”Guiding Light” also expanded to an hour.

 “Guiding Light” also challenged that stereotypical notion that soaps were death for actors who wanted a career in nighttime TV or movies. In fact, “Guiding Light” can claim to have launched the careers of actors and actresses who went on to lucrative and long lasting careers beyond soaps. Perhaps best known among these was Kevin Bacon, who appeared on the show in the early 1980’s. The show was also home to Ian Ziering who went on to “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Sharknado,” Calista Flockheart, TV’s Ally McBeal, Francis Fisher and Jo Beth Williams. Notables like Billy Dee Williams and Cicely Tyson were also captivated by the Light!

 I came to watch “Guiding Light” in 1984, and stayed with it at various levels of interest until the end came on September 18, 2009. For me, “Guiding Light” was a home and a comfort. I could identify with many of its characters and felt at home in “Springfield.” The storylines were often solid and sometimes outrageous. No character held my attention more than Reva Shayne, who like me was often on the outside looking in and doing whatever it took to get attention. Reva, played brilliantly by Kim Zimmer, was always a scene stealer and I couldn’t wait to catch up on her latest exploits.

 The final epitaph on “Guiding Light” actually came in Zimmer’s autobiography “I’m Just Sayin’.” In that book, Zimmer painfully describes the death of “Guiding Light” and often alludes to her suspicions that it was allowed to die. As the oldest soap, it would be easier to cancel others if the longest running soap could be killed. New modes of filming, and taking the sets outside, which were sold as innovative ways to attract new audiences, in fact drove old audiences away and made the once proud soap look like a high school TV class assignment. Zimmer also speaks of how Procter & Gamble lost interest and hired Executive Producers who would oversee the soaps demise from a business perspective.

 The end was announced on April 1, 2009, and was so shocking many thought it an April Fool’s joke. Alas it was not, and on September 18, 2009, the last episode of “Guiding Light” aired with Zimmer given the last word…”Always” as she and her soul mate Joshua Lewis drove off into history.

 The story of “Guiding Light” is the story of soap operas. Its beginning was their beginning, its social significance was their social significance, its rise was their rise and its fall and demise is a cautionary note for the remaining soaps. In the end, if we understand why and how “Guiding Light” ended, we can work to prevent other soaps from meeting the same fate.

 

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As we LOVE hearing what you have to say, so please comment! Let’s get a discussion going!

 

Stay Soapy,

 

 

How the Internet is Eating TV Alive

“The Online Omnivore”

by Eternalendrea

TV vs internet picIn general, the Internet has been of tremendous service, and its impact on the television industry is no exception. The advent of YouTube has allowed fans to easily rewatch beloved clips and listen to the music of their favorite shows. Online message forums have made it possible for these enthusiasts to correspond with one another all over the world and share opinions and ideas about their common love on a scale never before imagined, let alone realized. The truly die-hard have even invested their time and talent into the writing of fan fiction, or simply “fanfic”, fictional prose set in the universe of a particular program. All of this, being online, makes the passion of a fan base apparent to everyone, thus increasing a show’s exposure and making it more likely that its audience will grow. It’s hard to argue that this is anything but a great boon.

But perhaps there really can be too much of a good thing, and the once-benevolent Internet now threatens to devour the entire television industry and absorb it completely. Alas, this is no exaggeration. Television shows are increasingly being made available online, not in individual scenes or songs, but as whole episodes to be watched in front of a computer monitor rather than a television screen. There could be no more perfect example than the recent broadcast of the Daytime Emmy Awards, which last week were streamed live over the Internet rather than actually aired on a real network. This marked the first time, ever, that the Emmy’s were not made available via television. It’s a usurpation of TV’s domain unparallelled in history (even television’s rising to prominence over radio can’t compare, as people still listen to the radio), and an unconscionable overstepping of the Internet’s bounds.

And who is driving this slow but inexorable move to the online realm of cyberspace? Primarily the young, and its easy to understand why. Young people are practically married to their computers already, relying mostly on them for their news and passive entertainment. Watching shows online is only natural for them; they do everything else in front of their PC’s, why not this as well? But the inexperience of youth is a poor guide in understanding one of the fundamental, essential lessons of life: There is a place for everything, and everything ought be kept in its place.

In her book “I’m Just Saying”, TV soap star Kim Zimmer (Echo DiSavoy of One Life to Live and Reva Shayne of Guiding Light) touched on this issue when she worried about a Guiding Light special being planned for the benefit of Hurricane Katrina victims, and which would feature the show’s actors speaking directly to the audience. Zimmer was so upset about the plan to air this “episode” on television that she initially refused to be a part of it, rightly observing: “If the episode airs in the Guiding Light time slot, I am no longer Reva Shayne – I’m Kim Zimmer.” But she saw how things changed when the producers modified their plans, and decided instead to make this special an online-only installment. It was amazing: What would have broken the fourth wall on television and threatened “Guiding Light”’s suspension of disbelief, made for a fitting and touching extra for fans (or simply victims of Hurricane Katrina) who cared enough to look it up on the Internet. The problem was solved, and Zimmer withdrew her objection, happily participating in the project.

We do well to learn the lesson Kim teaches us (or perhaps learned for herself): TV and the Internet are not one and the same, and they shouldn’t be interchangeable. What works on one doesn’t necessarily have any place on the other. If we allow these separate and disparate media to merge, we risk losing the unique artistic possibilities inherent in each. Let’s allow television and computers to work together; we don’t need either one trying to annex the other.

Comment, subscribe (upper right-hand corner), and let’s dish, discuss, and commiserate!

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Check Out Our Ad on 3quarksdaily!

So soap fans, there is a blog–quite popular with a sort of international intelligentsia set–and we are running an ad on their site!

The ad links to our blog contributor, eternalendrea’s excellent post on soaps and the NYC economy!

Just scroll down a little and you’ll see it on the right side. http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/

Plus there are an endless amount of links to super-interesting articles (it’s a filter blog).

Stay soapy,

Akbi

Soap Box

Disclaimer: this blog post is not advocating the movement of the soaps currently on the West Coast to NYC. We are saying that the five soaps that spent the majority of their lives on the East Coast–AMC, OLTL, GL, ATWT, and AW–should come back there.

On October 20, 1930, a new kind of entertainment program was created. Conceived at the time as a series of 15-minute radio shorts, these programs would emphasize the interplay between characters, focusing on romantic drama, family dynamics, and personal rivalries and alliances, all on occasion to a melodramatic extent. Because the shows were originally produced by soap manufacturers (Procter and Gamble prominent among them), they earned the name “soap operas“, a title that has stuck over the years. And from an early date, a time some might even call the genre’s golden age, they have been associated with one key factor: Production in New York City.

New York is the cradle of the soap opera. And for a long time, it was the soap opera’s nursery as well. Early soaps, played on the radio, were broadcast live from New York’s studios. But somewhere along the line – mostly in the 1960’s and 70’s – that changed, so that live-action television soap operas came to be produced predominately in Los Angeles. The reasons for this are manifold: A warmer climate, greater access to acting talent, an established filming infrastructure. But what’s true in so many avenues of life also applies here, and if you want the most prominent reason of all for the egress of the soap opera from New York, you need only follow the money. It became more cost-effective to produce these shows on the west coast, so that’s where the shows went.

But the process also works in reverse. Provide economic incentives for a return to New York, and a return to New York you shall have. The easiest way to accomplish this is with tax breaks. The equation is really quite simple: Fewer taxes on a given business, equates to more of that business. Modest subsidies for cinematographic production would achieve the same effect, and together they would make an excellent two-pronged strategy. Throw in relaxed industry regulations for an even greater lure. The idea here is to cut the costs of filming in New York, so much that even Los Angeles cannot compete. Do that, and the Big Apple gets its soaps back.

The benefits of soap opera’s return to New York for that city would be immense. In addition to the prestige of once again hosting these beloved daytime shows, New York’s economy would grow appreciably. Bringing business brings money, because the people who work in that business live and trade in the city where their business is conducted. Satellite enterprises spring up – in this case caterers, nearby restaurants, any imaginable outlet that could provide services to the production crews. More people would be employed, with they and their employers paying taxes to the city. The math is simple – where is the will?

No one is saying this is going to be easy. But it will most certainly be effective. Do what it takes to bring the soap opera back to New York, and all New Yorkers will reap the benefits.

——

Editor’s Note:

One easy thing we can all do is sign this asking ABC to bring All My Children, One Life to Live, and SOAPnet back. Here’s the link: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savedaytimetv

You can also register for our blog in the upper right corner. And we LOVE hearing what you have to say, so please comment! Let’s get a discussion going!

Stay Soapy,

Akbi

Written by Eternalendrea,

Soap Recurring Themes #9

All pregnant women have the same crazy craving: pickles and ice cream!

Can anyone think of an example of this, recent or long ago, on any soap?

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Comment!!!! We love hearing from you!
Stay soapy,

Akbi