Associated Television International’s President Worldwide Media and Entertainment, Jim Romanovich has posted a very savvy look and perspective on the Prospect Park/ABC deal that brought All My Children and One Life to Live online, including his thoughts on how the shows will ultimately be reflected on the web, and how they must change with the times and addressing some of the key hold-outs from the various AMC stars.
The complete blog was posted on Baseline Intelligence and here are some key excerpts below!
Romanovich: “Two and half months later Prospect Park announced they had acquired the rights to both All My Children and One Life To Live to continue on the internet. This was huge news. But it also led to a barrage of questions from the public and especially the conspiracy theorists who were working overtime to find some Machiavellian scheme that this was more plotting by the network to torture the fans. I don’t think things are as dastardly as they seem nor as simple. Quite often negotiations occur after a deal is done. I do it all the time simply because issues crop up that were unexpected and you have to disclose these potential obstacles before you attempt to hurdle them. Networks do it with me too. As they say, get them a little pregnant and then hammer out your terms. Although I have no direct knowledge of the closed door sessions between Disney and Prospect Park, I, as a television producer, cannot imagine any license fees were paid to Disney for those rights. If there is a huge cash cow with unlimited funds behind Prospect Park, I could tell you that buying cancelled daytime soaps would have been the wrong move. Quite frankly if I had unlimited funds, I would have invested in something more bankable. But since they did acquire these two soaps, my guess is that it’s strictly on a royalty basis that may have revenue benchmarks due and payable once reached.
That makes more sense and is a complete win-win for Disney because they no longer have to be responsible for production costs, talent negotiations, or ad sales expectations. Now they just can sit back and collect a quarterly check and still own the show since this is a royalty deal based on episodes produced. Prospect Park gets to access a potentially huge audience for no money down, too. Once, or if, they decline to produce new episodes, the rights revert back to Disney. Now that’s a risk I’d take. Is this the deal they struck? All I can say is if this is a straight royalty deal, then this is how it usually works. That’s the only deal I would have made. According to the July 7th Wall Street Journal article ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ Head Online, the following quote reaffirms my royalty/benchmark opinion by stating “The deal gives Prospect Park exclusive rights to the two shows for more than a decade, and pays Disney millions of dollars a year in royalties for as long as the shows are produced”.
So what can fans really expect? For the first three months, pretty much the status quo. They don’t want to rock your boat too quickly. Stories will mirror what they had done for television and many of the same actors will be playing those same parts. Some will not. For that void, you will see new, younger, edgier characters introduced that appeal to more of an online viewer as many stalwart soap fans have rightly commented on several well known soaps websites that their grandmothers would never watch them online nor would anyone in extreme rural communities be able to get them. If true, then the producers may think why bother to write for them. I also believe that these newer characters will be tied into legacy characters. In addition, I think recasting key characters in which the previous portrayer opted to not go on is almost a certainty. For example, Alicia Minshew (Kendall) is one who will not continue when All My Children goes online although she would be open to a recurring role. Well, that does nobody any good because the character is too woven into the show’s framework and a key part of the Erica Kane legacy. With Susan Lucci out, who is irreplaceable, and now Minshew, I would recast Kendall and give her strong material. You cannot create successful story integration within a five day a week soap opera on part time talent. Ms. Lucci, on the other hand, is so iconic that her presence even on a recurring basis would be most welcomed.
The 2.0 versions of these soaps have to take chances that network censors previously had never allowed. I think language and sexuality should be more honest and direct. Look what Showtime and HBO do with Dexter and True Blood. These soaps should take these risks in visuals and storytelling to grow their appeal. Why would anyone invest their money into doing more of the same on the internet when soaps can finally be true to themselves and be the real groundbreakers they were initially created to be? This is where the shows can succeed. This is not about creating shock value. This is still about the core elements of successful storytelling. It is taking Doug Marland’s formula How Not to Wreck a Soap to the utmost level of purpose. In his formula, he states two key issues of success-story and character. I think that is partially true. You also need execution otherwise story and character have no direction. The execution is to hire the perfect writer and producer who envision and create the character who then hires the right actor who will make that creation come to life. That is execution.”
So what do you think of Jim’s look into the Prospect Park deal and the soaps moves online? Let us know!