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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thoughts on the Cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live

I recently read that two of my favorite soaps All My Children and One Life to Live are being cancelled in January. As a screenwriter, I’m deeply saddened for not just the actors, but the writers, producers, directors, script supervisors, video editors, set decorators, carpenters, wardrobe coordinators, tailors, production assistants, and craft services caterers and a bunch of other people who will now be out of work as a result of this management decision.

On top of those layoffs, the local economies of New York City and Los Angeles are gonna take a huge hit once these shows go out of production. For over forty years New York City made a ton of money off the production of All My Children and One Life to Live at the ABC SuperStudios in Manhattan as productions filmed from sunup to the wee hours of the morning. With the Soaps out of production, all those local businesses around the ABC super Studios are gonna feel a hit to the wallet.

When a Television production closes up shop, hundreds if not thousands of people lose their livelihoods. In a lot of cases, it may be years before they find work again. The Entertainment business is extremely ROUGH, and jobs are often few and far between.

I feel really bad for all the actors and crew on All My Children. Most of them were forced to move to Los Angeles last year to keep their jobs and now ABC just yanks the rug out from under them like this. Many of the newer performers are working actors so they don’t make the millions a veteran actor like Susan Lucci or David Canary, so this is a double whammy for them. Will they find work out in L.A? Will they even be able to survive out there?

Personally, I believe ABC’s Daytime head Brian Fons fucked up royally by cancelling the soaps, and I have a feeling he’ll soon be joining CW’s former programming chief Dawn Ostroff on the unemployment line. In my 27 years of studying television I haven’t seen a botch of a TV schedule this bad since Fred Silverman mismanaged NBC into bankruptcy in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

I really don’t believe that ABC’s replacements for soaps a food talk show The Chew and a lifestyle makeover talk show The Revolution are gonna get better ratings. From the premises, the new shows don’t offer anything special to viewers; I can catch that type of stuff done better YouTube, ION Television, ABC’s LivWell Channel on 7-2 here in New York City PBS (WLIW and WNYC here in New York run a TON of cooking/lifestyle shows) or any other Cable network. Plus, Rachel Ray already comes on a few hours earlier and will probably satisfy the foodies appetites for cooking shows. Sure these types of shows are cheaper to produce, but that type of redundant and bland content won’t help ABC remain competitive long-term.

Couple the loss of the soap operas in the afternoon with the loss of Regis in the mornings, The Oprah Winfrey Show ending this year and the 2011-2012 season looks like an impending disaster for ABC. Without a synergized schedule of distinct content to provide a flow of programming to lead into local news and prime-time later on, I’m predicting a huge drop in ratings for them. Many of the viewers who watched soaps in the afternoon kept their televisions on that channel to watch other programming like the five o’clock news, ABC World News Tonight, Jeapordy! Wheel of Fortune, and other prime time programming later on.

I truly hate to see these two classic soaps go off the air. I feel it’s a short-sighted and boneheaded decision by ABC executives to cancel All My Children and One Life to Live instead of investing money in hiring new writers and focusing on crafting better storylines. All it takes is one or two good storylines and these shows would get their audiences back in an instant.

1 comment:

  1. I don't watch the soaps as much as I once did. I watched 4 hours day once upon a time and now wonder when I found time to do much else:) Like you, I'm saddened at this passing of good shows that gave employment to many and were and are excellent trainning grounds for writers, actors, etc.

    The world goes on and in this case, it's a sadder world. I just wish you would manage to get these pieces on a larger venue. I haven't seen stories of this quality written about these canelations. After all, they're a way of life for many of us and great sources of entertainment.

    Shawn, I commend you for your excellent social commentary. You've got great readership, but I want you on a national front:)