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7 September 20th, 2011 ATI Exec, Jim Romanovich “Barefoot in Prospect Park : Daytime Soaps Dot Com” piece brings up thought-provoking commentary!

Courtesy/ABC

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.

Courtesy/ABC

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!

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  1. Danielle says:

    Folks, call Prospect Park and ask them to also air AMC & OLTL on TV. I did this earlier today (it’s one of the tasks being posted on fb) and the woman I talked to was very nice and she said they are considering, but that we have to keep up, and keep those calls coming!

    Reply

  2. Lee says:

    1) First, #AMC needs to move back to NYC or NJ. Most of the #AMC actors have their roots here. They may be willing to take less in salary if they can be near their loved ones.

    2) Soaps need to return to what they excel at. Soaps have 5 hrs per week to tell stories. They need to use this time. This means no short scenes. It means long, loving dialog. Here are two examples from Liz Keifer/Maureen Garrett from GL. This is amazing soap and amazing TV. We don’t get this anywhere anymore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFAExYc9bxw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r2eeo5Ohds. These are the kind of scenes that set soaps apart and made them viable. Please bring this back!

    Reply

    Torrey replied

    I agree with you that AMC needs to head back to NYC. It seems as if, that is a concern for most of the talent. And I do agree with what the man stated as far as recasting on AMC. We, as fans, may not want to see some of our faves recast, but as long as it is approached in a smart manner, unlike the Liza Colby recast, it would be ok. I personally believe that Beth Ethlers got a raw deal on AMC….she would have made a much better Liza than Jamie Luner….besides that, she actually had chemistry with Michael E. Knight.

    And I also agree that scenes, like the ones you posted are not readily available on soaps anymore. It’s all a bunch of quick unimportant scenes thrown together to make a show. And I’ve stated this before, but why is it that on AMC right now, just about every character on the show is circling around the Orpheus story line? Shouldn’t there be some separation of stories? I mean, it’s like the story is being beat into the ground. I mean, you’ve got JR, Krystal, Angie, Jessie, Ryan, Greenlee, Cara, Griffin, Tad, Dixie, Zach, Kendall, Erica and I’m sure I’m missing someone….but my point being, Project Orpheus is all that is discussed between all of these characters. It’s a waste of talent and time to have all of these characters focusing on one story line. It’s one thing if it were a who-done it story, where all of these characters were suspects, but come on…..

    I wish to God that I could be a member of the writing staff, cause I am so sick of recycled writers from cancelled shows bouncing around making matters worse for our shows. I just hope PP has some fresh ideas that honor the history, talent and audience of both shows.

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    Blake replied

    Wow, what great scenes between those two! I agree, why can’t they be like that anymore? God I miss GL. Wish it was saved, wish it could go online also! That was my favorite!

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  3. Laura says:

    I don’t agree with the consensus that “grandmothers” will not watch online. I am in my early 50s (old enough to be a grandmother or a great-great grandmother in soapland–LOL) and I have no problem watching shows online. I have been doing it for quite awhile. My 77 yr old mother is pretty handy on a computer. She watches you tube videos that interest her and does FB etc. This sounds so cliche–but this notion that anyone over a certain age won’t follow t the soaps to the internet smacks of ageism. I do understand that there are some folks without computers–but in this day and age most folks have them and access to the internet.

    Personally, I think it would be a huge mistake to get rid of the vets and just write for the young cast because that is who the producers think will be watching. They tried that sh-t on the tv soaps and just lost loyal viewers. Soaps thrive on multi-generational storytelling. There needs to be stories for each generation, These storylines need to intertwine with each other. Doug Marland used to do that very well. When soaps started going for the bubble storylines with 5-6 characters and these sl had nothing to do with the rest of the cast–they usually failed. That’s what happened quite a bit on AMC.
    Just one more thing–I got hooked on AMC in college. The characters that hooked me were Palmer, Myra, Phoebe, Mona and so on. These actors were about 40 yrs older than me. But, I can tell you–the whole dorm used to wait for Mona/Phoebe to get into it over Dr Tyler. We were fascinated by it and just loved those scenes!! We were riveted by what Palmer would do next to thwart Nina’s romance. And when Daisy showed up–it was awesome. I am telling you that kids from 18-22 loved the older characters just as much (if not more) than the younger ones.

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  4. Blake says:

    What a great interview. He has a lot of great ideas, true what he said about Kendall and everything else.

    Reply

  5. maria arellano says:

    Will AMC continue online & if yes ( i cant see why not) when will it start, what is the url to go to, and what time? I cant believe after watching this show since i was 7 years old its going to end the way it did. Really? JR shooting someone and thats it? Are all the Tyler members dead that none where brought back to the reunion? Is this the same end in store for OLTL which by the way I started watchng and the same time?

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