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97 April 19th, 2011 Former ABC exec, writer Sara Saedi, on what ABC did & didn’t do to save their soaps!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

In a very interesting post at TheBlowOff.com, Sara Saedi, the writer of the very the clever, What-If crossover series that aired on ABC.com and SOAPnet.com, and formerly a creative executive at ABC Daytime, offered her thoughts on the last several history making days in the world of soaps, which saw the demise of All My Children and One Life to Live as handed down by ABC Daytime President, Brian Frons.

In her new blog, Saedi elaborates at all the things she says ABC tried for their soaps, and then looked at what the network was up against, or, did not do to save their soaps.  Here are some excerpts!

Saedi commented in her blog post, “I believe the network and specifically Brian Frons (President of ABC Daytime) have gotten a bum rap these last few days. In the time I was at ABC, we tried EVERYTHING to save the soaps and increase the ratings. We brought back legacy characters, we brought in younger characters in hopes of raising our teen and 18-34 demo, we cut costs, we executed high concept action driven storylines, we executed high romance emotionally driven storylines, we started a cable network so women could watch their soaps at night, we produced webisodes, we used CGI to raise production value, we did endless research to figure out what was working for viewers and what wasn’t, we went back to focusing on social issues, we went HD, we traveled all around the country so soap stars could meet their fans.We hired Latino actors to attract the telenovella viewers, we went more salacious in our narratives, we went more true to life in our narratives, we went multi-platform, we did shorter close ended story arcs, we sat in rooms for hours with writers and talked in great depth about every single character on each show and what their objectives were, we took risks, we played it safe, we sold an All My Children perfume in Wal-Mart, we published books “written by” our fictional characters, we killed off beloved characters, we brought back beloved characters from the dead, we even brought a movie star on General Hospital…and the ratings still didn’t go up.”

“Now, here are the things us execs did not do to save the soaps when I worked there: we didn’t dispose of computers and additional TV sets in people’s homes to get families back to one TV per household. (Teens and kids don’t watch soaps with their moms anymore, because they don’t have to— they have their own TVs in their rooms or computers to keep them company.) We also didn’t try to get women out of the work force and back into their homes to watch TV during the day. We didn’t confiscate every single DVR in every single house and destroy it. We didn’t put an end to cable TV and the 200+ channels soaps compete with, we didn’t hold Telemundo and Univision hostage and forbid them from airing telenovellas, we didn’t outlaw Reality TV or primetime shows that ripped off our format, and we didn’t create a time machine to take us back to the heyday of soaps in the 1980s. It’s been thirty years since the heyday, which means a lot of time for viewer fatigue. I love Modern Family, but if someone asked me if I wanted to watch it everyday for the next thirty years, I’d probably pass. It wasn’t the network that killed the soaps. It was the progression of time, technology, and competition.”

What do you think of Saedi’s remarks and commentary? Let us know!

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  1. Stephanie says:

    I actually agree with everything that she said.

    Reply

    Oliver replied

    Me too!

    It seems like the writers who had been there for too long and had heads that were too big, just wouldn’t let the younger generation offer ideas that would suit a new generation of soap fans.

    Reply

  2. Vicki says:

    WOW! That last paragraph was very condescending and insulting! I don’t believe anything this woman says. She sounds like a Frons apologist, and I don’t believe they’ve tried everything. I also believe that Frons had no passion for soaps and he seemed to have micro-managed them way too much. Frons seems like a jerk and I think he is solely responsible for wrecking these beloved soaps.

    Reply

    Bren replied

    Agreed. Extremely condescending. Yes, we now live in a world of technology and what we liked in the 80′s isn’t necessarily what we like now. Except- a lot of those fans from the 80′s and earlier, still watch soaps. We may have to DVR them- so, unless you’re footing my rent, car payment, food, and insurance, that’s not going to change- but the viewers are there. The problem is that with this technological progression no one thought about updating the Nielson ratings, or creating a new system that actually counts ALL viewers. And exactly who did you poll that said reality tv was the way to win viewers. BIG MISTAKE, ABC. Very big loss of viewers mistake.

    Reply

    Elizabeth replied

    I agree with you Bren 100%

    Maureen replied

    Condescending is right. But that is nothing new. That is the attitude soap fans and the soap casts have been getting for years under the Frons regime. I didn’t see her mention about how they really listened to fans because they could have spared themselves all the smoke and mirrors and done things of more substance had they listened to their soap fans. I didn’t see any mention of them leaving the creative side the hell alone so they could write character-driven stories since they know when it comes to stories that audiences identify more with characters than they do with CGI effects and movie stars.

    And let’s get the facts straight too…especially regarding Soapnet. Soapnet was started before there was a Brian Frons at ABC. That channel did not come to be because of him. Please. The fact is that once he became the head of Soapnet then the network quickly became less and less about soaps. Just like in many ways Froms from the very start tried to make the soaps less and less about soaps. I am really tired of ABC peeing on all of us daytime soap fans and then telling us it is raining. They don’t want us, they don’t care about us. They think we are old and have no spendable income. But they are the ones who need to go because they are telling tall tales to their sponsors and advertisers.

    Reply

  3. david says:

    Well obviously something worked or OLTL wouldn’t have moved up to third in the ratings or be the only soap to have gained viewers compared to last year. The performances have been incredible; the storylines strong. She is probably afraid to say anything against Frons, out of fear for her own financial self-interest, like everyone else who works in television.

    Isn’t the real explanation more about money and corporate/shareholder interests? Disney/ABC chooses to produce reality programming over soaps, because even if there are fewer viewers, their revenue will increase by a wider margin.

    Reply

  4. Brooke says:

    I wonder how much ABC and Brian Frons paid her to write that blog?

    No matter. We can play ABC’s games. We are going to hit them where it hurts, in THEIR pocketbooks with OUR pocketbooks.

    Fans have already banded together to let ABC’s sponsor know we will be boycotting The Chew and The Revolution AND the products of any business that sponsors those shows. We are going to freeze them out.

    Every major General Hospital fan site is actively involved too.

    Reply

  5. Megan says:

    I don’t believe that Brian Frons has gotten a bum wrap in the last few days. He’s had a black eye on him for a while now. But the network has refused to do anything about it despite the fact that fans are rallying for change.

    Frons favors certain actors over others, and centers stories heavily around them. When fans are forced to watch the same characters every day over and over, and sometimes with little to no progress being made for months at a time, fans get bored.

    Stories can be expedited, but at what cost? Good writing. Plot points are missed. A well paced, thought out story with good continuity and no history re-writes would be nice.

    Bringing back legacy characters? Fantastic. But it’d be nice if they were brought back for more than just a ratings grab. Put some thought into the stories to bring them back into the fold in a natural way. Genie Francis’ short term return when Laura went off to Paris for treatment? Genie herself said that she felt it more about ratings, than it was actually about the character and giving the fans what they had been wanting.

    Cutting costs? Really? How is going to HD cutting costs? From what I understand, that’s pretty damn expensive. And if ABC/Disney wanted out of the soap market, why would they invest money hand over fist for shows that weren’t turn profits anymore (or were beginning to lose momentum)? CGI costs a lot of money. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t miss it. It looks really cheesy, and you can tell it’s not real. At least in the movies, it looks good (yes they have bigger budgets). Why waste the money when a set can be rocked back and forth to simulate an accident, then just have the next scene with debris scattered all around…why are there fresh flowers in nearly every shot?

    Endless research? I don’t think so. How could someone have done endless research to find out what was working for fans, and what wasn’t? All one has to do is look at message boards on abc.com or soapcentral.com or look at twitter feeds to find out….It’s impossible to keep all fans happy at all times, but if there were more equality between actors/characters screentime, storylines to go around, less re-written history to fit a new vision and an actual DECENT storyline, fans would be flocking home after work in droves to see their shows…

    Sure James Franco has don’t a couple of stints on GH. But how much did that cost the show? Fans that came with James to see his work probably didn’t stick around because the stories were so focused on him, and the other characters were sacrificed to prop him up that those viewers didn’t form an emotional attachment on any level to them – so why come back after James left??

    Vanessa Marcil came back. Lots of advertising dollars went to her return. Again, fantastic. Love her. But she came back, as a character living in Europe, with a movie star boyfriend, who we had no connection to, with a friend we cared nothing about, a job we hadn’t ever heard of, and a faceless threat known simply as The Balkan. And then months of story followed with little to no progress. It was a let down.

    They didn’t force women out of the work force, or take DVRs away. They created Soapnet instead. Soapnet was a great addition (but unavailable in Canada). But they should have made their shows available for viewing on their website for more than just a day. It should be available for at least a week (give people until the weekend to be able to watch) and it should be available to viewed online in other countries, not just the US.

    Why haven’t shows tried more on-air product placement? They could get more advertising dollars from companies, and people don’t fastforward through those scenes. I would be inclined to make an impulse purchase in line at the grocery store of a magazine that the young women were reading, or a bottle of Dasani water. Why not have Whole Foods Market grocery bags rather than non-descript, clearly fictional grocery chains? Or Safeway…? What about a Swiffer refill box on the table…. I’m not saying characters should start talking about products like Midol, like DAYS Stephanie did a few years ago, but just having it in the background. And I certainly wouldn’t want to revisit the ABC “Campbells Heart Healthy” campaign because that was so painfully obvious I wanted to start a drinking game….but my liver would’ve been severly damaged.

    Media has changed our viewing habits, definitely. But that means that the networks need to change how they collect their data. Joe Blow with a Neilson Box shouldn’t speak for me and my viewing habits.

    Reply

    Kristin replied

    Oh I love your post! Love it! They didn’t do enough to help their soaps. One only has to look at the treatment GH gets as compared to OLTL. The network promoted Vanessa Marcil returning day in & day out to point of nausea. At the SAME time VMG was returning a true daytime Diva was making her return on OLTL Kim Zimmer. Where was Kim’s promotions? Yeah…. not so much there. ABC lies, they lie & it makes me ill!

    Reply

    Pam replied

    You have great ideas. I especially like the on-air product placement. That would really help advertisers in this age of DVR as long as it is done subtly so as not to interfere in the story. It could actually be quite interesting if done right. You should work for ABC. Then maybe they would have used some of your ideas and we would still have our shows.

    Reply

  6. nan says:

    What they didn`t do is listen to the fans!!!Yes they brought in movies stars (she s talking about Franco)that we didn `t care about!!They brought in newbies (younger) that we didn`t care about! They started story s than left them hanging.They started loves and dropped them.They killed off key familes ,and long time actors that we came to love with no regard for the fans.They spent money on these new people and high priced actors that brought NOTHING to the storys.the block taping at GH is the worse thing they have done.GH stopped using people we cared about yes so it got boring .WE TOLD THEM THAT DID THEY LISTEN NOOOOOOO.

    Reply

  7. Anne says:

    Umm excuse me what legacy characters did GH bring back? Brenda was the only one I can think of and she got shoved in a stupid contrived side story with Dante. Is this woman for real? OLTL and AMC did do some of those things but GH NONE of them. In fact they violated EVERY single one of the “How to write a good soap and not piss your audience off” rules..EVERY one of them. They sacked GV and brought back JJ and then completely whitewashed all of LL2 history withouth JJ. WHY? Because he can’t act or handle the crap that was doled out to GV? ABC in the last 2 or 3 years actually since the writers strike has screwed the audience over every minute of every hour during the daytime schedule. Bringing on lifestyles shows that we can find anywhere else is NOT going to win back loyalty and viewers.

    Reply

    Jamie replied

    I’m not sure I read that right, but did you just imply that Jonathan Jackson can’t act???

    Reply

    jbj replied

    OK, I was not happy with GV being canned (or the implication that he was JJ’s placeholder or a bad actor), but JJ is without a doubt a talented actor and they have held up quite a bit of the GV-era LL2 story.

    SP replied

    I was with you until you said that JJ cannot act.

    Reply

  8. Tricia says:

    Really they did everything, they didn’t listen to any of the fans on their own message boards. So you brought a movie star to a soap. James Franco was horrible and was USING GH for his own agenda. A LOT of GH fans complained about this taking away from their core characters. We asked for more respect for the history of GH, they killed AJ, Justice, Lila, Alan, and Emily. Almost all members of a legacy family. Its mob central all the time, even though the fans have been complaining about the Sonny and Jason show for years now. The fans have been asking for LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, not the poor mans Godfather. The fans have been asking for use of the entire ensemble cast, yet Jake Webber Spencer died without ever knowing his “real” grandmother, or Great grandfather (imagine the possibilities if Edward knew) and Josselyn got a new kidney and a new body guard all without ever seeing her grandmother who would’ve brought this story full circle. We have been asking for use of veteran characters, yet the inconsistent SORAS’g of children (Cam was born before Molly) doesn’t let the viewers become invested. and of course lets delve into the LIASON/Jasam war. This could’ve been ratings gold for GH, playing this triangle off for years to come, but what happened instead. Rebecca and Steve have barely shared the screen for a minute at a time in the last 2+ years. Brian Frons did everything alright. He did EVERYTHING to purposely ruin the soaps, and Sara Saedi is a Frons flunkie. You did everything except the one most important thing. GIVE EM WHAT THEY WANT!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  9. ethel says:

    i think she is just a spokes person for frons……………………

    Reply

  10. Christina says:

    What do I think? I think that when I was a child (I was born in ’85) and felt soaps were a punishment because I DID have my own TV (as did my brother); and we had video games (original Nintendo was the bomb); and we did have a computer (granted it only had 2 games that I can remember); and we had a swingset in the backyard; and we had what we called a gameroom (board games, stuffed animals, movies, toys, a pool table, etc were mostly kept in that one room); and my mother did work (she and my dad have owned their own store since before I was born) that my mother still sat me and my siblings down (when we weren’t in school at 2pm central) in the same room when she watched HER General Hospital until one day it became MY General Hospital too.

    Reply

  11. liasonbff says:

    Warning: LONG! I can only speak of what, in my opinion, tptb did to GH (though I think we can infer that OLTL & AMC weren’t treated better) because that’s my soap.
    1)They brought in legacy characters and wrote them OUT of character so that these characters we had once loved were unrecognizable.
    2)They brought in young characters that we had NO CONNECTION to because we did NOT see them grow up like we did our favorites (Robin, Elizabeth, Jason, Lucky).
    3)They executed THEIR VERSION of high action storylines, but the truth is GH had more action in the ’80s and early ’90s.
    4)I don’t recall them ever executing high romance stories, but I guess she could be talking about THEIR version of romance, which usually involves a stripper or some contrived plot points that don’t really amount to romance to viewers.
    5)They started a cable network and proceeded to fill it with new programming instead of soaps.
    6)They produced a handful of webisodes for Night Shift 2 featuring two characters that no one cared about and barely even knew, and they produced a series of webisodes following Bradford Anderson (Spinelli) that really didn’t have anything to do with any soap at all. I’m sure there were other types of webisodes too, but I don’t recall them and none had to do with the soap itself as far as I know.
    7)They used CGI to create special effects when every TRUE soap fan knows that soaps are NOT and have NEVER been about the effects, and ended up looking more foolish than not because they will never be able to compete with movie or even primetime effects due to money and TIME.
    8) They did endless research by creating an INSIDERS website and asking a select few questions. I had the privilege of being one of those few, the FIRST time. They, however, did NOT listen or execute anything we told them, or if they did it was, again, THEIR version of what we told them we wanted and NOT, in fact, what we actually said. But for the most part, they ignored what we said and then recreated their site, kicking out ALL of us who had pointed out how they were NOT listening to us, complaining about what was airing, and basically opposing THEIR vision of things. Needless to say, *I* was not invited to their relaunched website. Besides the site, they got research from Focus Groups, which Jackie Z (Bobbie) said are manipulated to reinforce whatever Frons/whoever already planned on doing. Focus Group research is supposedly super secret so we aren’t allowed to know how the questions were worded or even what questions/choices were given, but all anyone would have to do is look at GH Facebook’s current questions to see the bias/spin of those in charge.
    9)They focused on social issues like Kristina’s abuse, and ratings went UP so they immediately switched the focus to something else because follow through is not really GH’s strong suit these days. Funny. Michael’s rape was another social issue, only GH chose to mess that story up in a different way. First, they skirted around the issue for months, then they covered it in about a day, keeping characters who would have naturally enhanced/rounded the story OUT of the story, and then, like Kristina’s abuse, no follow through.
    10)You bet your butt they went HD, and before they even learned how to use it so that most characters turned into Oompa Loompas. Funny thing, but I don’t know a single soap fan who was begging for HD.
    11)Various soap actors DID travel around the country to meet fans…who said we didn’t like the ACTORS? All that proved was that fans…VIEWERS, DO EXIST. We may not be watching, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like the actors. We love the actors and wish the show was good enough again so that we COULD watch or favorites. What you people in charge seem not to get is that we criticize out of LOVE, a love that for many spans decades. Don’t worry, newbie viewers don’t understand our love either. It’s a soap fan thing I guess.
    12)I don’t know what she’s talking about when she says they hired Latino actors, but, like I said, we mostly love the actors. THEY, for the most part, are NOT and haven’t ever really been the problem, but regardless we definitely do NOT need more newbies.
    13) And then she lost me with the various story type things she SAYS they did….I guess it was THEIR version again.
    14)Buying products from a show we used to love does not mean we are going to tune in to said show if it is crap. I don’t see how the perfume or the Spinelli book correlates to people tuning in to watch. But it’s that kind of logic that I believe helped kill soaps. The people in charge are out of touch.
    15)YES, they killed off BELOVED characters. How in the world do they think that translates to viewers staying tuned in? Does. not. compute. Some may have watched to see how their favorite ended, but then tuned OUT right after.
    16)They brought back beloved characters from the dead as GHOSTS. Is it no wonder why these people are confused? They think we wanted Alan or Georgie back as a ghost. Because THAT’S how we want our beloved characters??!! Oh, wait maybe she meant we wanted Emily back but just as an “evil” gum-chewing twin? *bangs head*
    17)They brought a movie star and other famous actors to the show…Viewers may have issues with some of the actors, but, again I say, the actors are not and never were the problem. Hello, is this thing on? lol Soaps are not and have never been about the bells and whistles. It doesn’t matter if it’s James Franco, Michael Learned, or Joe Smith from across the street(as long as he can act and is kind of attractive). It’s the STORY not the PLOT POINT that determines long-term viewership.

    Reply

    SP replied

    Eloquently said, laisonbff! I agree 100%

    Reply

  12. Jen Bryan says:

    No they didn’t listen to the fans. Frons did what he wanted to bottom line. What needs to happen is to look at better ways to view their ratings. I’ve read that 1 Neilson family represents 35,000 viewers… However, I’ve never met one of those families. I’m 32 years old and I’ve never once met a family that was a Neilson family. In this day and age I would work with cable and satellite companies to have viewer data pulled directly from DVRs and cable boxes. I would totally support Directv doing that in my home they have that info anyway. He has done everything he can do to tank the soaps. And Ms whatever your name is Soapnet is not in HD and to me that is a bad business move on their part. I’m about tired of those that are an apologist for Frons. Are these folks going to still be apologizing when he brings down daytime completely? Give me a break!

    Reply

  13. Jason says:

    Loved what she said there, and i also agree. Maybe if Frons reads this, he would see that people want our soaps then cheap uninteresting shows.

    Reply

  14. Jen Snelling says:

    Maybe they did all those things while she was at ABC but they gave up on many of those efforts without giving them much time. Airing legacy characters in the past several months has sure helped OLTL and, according to ABC, GH too. They cut costs and OLTL has stayed within their budget. They started a cable network for soaps but never really gave it a good chance to take off and run. Fans love the webisodes but there is much more to good marketing than that (and don’t get me started on things like the “Cramer girl reunion.”) Hiring actors isn’t really enough if you don’t treat the ones you have with integrity. The latest book written by a “fictional character” is actually written by Carolyn Hennesy – not Diane Miller – and it is on the NYTimes Bestseller List. “We even brought a movie star on General Hospital.” Does she even realize how many esteemed “movie stars” have done soaps and might again? Think big. Respect your audience. Honor the history of American legacies. I know I’m not a Hollywood insider or television financial expert but I am one of those disrespected audience members who did write letters that were tossed aside for what were considered better ideas. “It’s been thirty years since the heyday, which means a lot of time for viewer fatigue.” Are you kidding me with this? Think about how many people were tuning in DESPITE all this!

    Reply

  15. Rosie Peat says:

    I have to agree with most of the other comments here that this is a load of crap. I’m not saying that ABC and other networks don’t believe that they tried to save soaps, but they sure didn’t listen to fans, which seems beyond obvious. Ultimately it’s ratings that make or break most shows and if writers, producers, and network/channel executives create a show fans want to watch, they will. Yes, viewing habits are changing, but it’s not the fault of fans that Nielsen and internal ratings research haven’t kept pace with changing viewer habits or technology. If television manufacturers, the federal government, and the aspects of the entertainment industry can come together for the V-Chip, why not create a ratings chip too? Granted, they would have to figure out who was going to collect, store, and report the data and for what purposes, but seems like a relatively easy and needed solution since both prime time and daytime shows are down in viewers and revenue generation. Or in the alternative, why don’t the networks and channels put pressure on Nielsen to come up with a better system?

    Reply

  16. Rosie Peat says:

    Besides, and not to sound too snarky, but Saedi lost credibility for me when I read she was behind what-if webisodes, before I even got to blog excerpts. Some may have enjoyed those, but I couldn’t even make it through the first one and didn’t watch a single one after that even on youtube.

    Reply

  17. SuZ says:

    They may have tried a lot of things but they did none of them well. James Franco is a great actor and GH managed to make him look stupid. They didn’t give real thought to whether the writers themselves were the issue. ABC has had a fatalist attitude for years about soaps, reluctant to change the core of soap writers who were tired and creatively bankrupt for fear of rocking the boat and failing to recognize the same tired writers were the crux of the problem. They expected soaps to fail and planned accordingly. Now they are surprised by people calling out their efforts as token at best or highlighting their incompetence at their job at worst. Clearly the Peter Principle is alive and well in the TV industry just as elsewhere. Let us hope Frons has risen to his highest level of incompetence but it seems more likely he’ll continue to screw up everything he touches. The Chew? Seriously? Will Red Man be a new sponsor for their “plugs”?

    Reply

  18. Kimberly says:

    I agree with what she is saying in the final paragraph. However, what also needs to change with time and technology is that prehistoric system they call Nielsen. These networks put all their money on a system that no longer can accomodate the growing technology in television viewing. Why does watching on a computer not count? You can’t even forward through the commercials on most sites. Why does DVR not count? Even if you are forwarding through the ads you still see them on your screen. Redesign the ads to show the product for longer so that if a consumer is forwarding the product name will show on the screen. It’s time for TV, Nielsen, and the Netowrks to come into the 21st century.

    Reply

  19. eiwcakeff says:

    I agree with Vicki she didn’t want to burn any bridges in her industry. All her stated things they did were done in a totally half-a**ed way. No one wants CGI, bringing back former members of the cast only works if you give them a proper s/l–stunt casting how dumb was that experiment on GH.
    All that was needed was a decent s/l that used the talents of the ppl already on canvas. OLTL was and is doing a great job doing that exact thing. GH was doing the complete opposite and AMC just seems to have lost it’s way in the last yr but has many great characters.
    So I call BS on this person’s statement

    Reply

  20. Nanci akemon says:

    I guess 5 million viewers do not matter to them! Boycott ABC & their sponsors!

    Reply

    Claudia replied

    You seriously wonder!……..

    Reply

    NUSA replied

    I hope it’s 5 million and rising………..maybe some VIP’s with money to burn will start their own network or buy one taking on the 2 Soaps.

    Reply

  21. Cakelover20 says:

    WRITE GREAT STORIES – VIEWERS WILL COME!!!!!

    Look at OLTL, they proved it. Their storylines have been rocking lately and have been praised for it, accordingly. Their ratings have increased in recent months.

    The thing about soap viewers is that we really are not high maintenance viewers. We don’t need movie stars like James Franco. We do not need plot points. We don’t need fancy sets or HD. We don’t need younger actors to be shoved down our throats.

    All we need is for our favorite characters to be on our screens and the ability to understand and follow the storylines being played out on our screens.

    What extensive research was done?
    Focus groups – from people who do not even watch soap operas, who have no history of the show and/or its characters.
    Did they ask the fans of the show? And if they did ask, did they listen?
    I was at ABC Insider for quite some time and everything that was discussed there never showed up on our screens.
    The result – as long as the research findings mirrored the Fronsvision, then it was accepted. Any findings that did not, were disregarded.

    Reply

  22. Cakelover20 says:

    “How Not To Wreck A Show” by Douglas Marlard.
    * Watch the show.
    * Learn the history of the show. You would be surprised at the ideas that you can get from the back story of your characters.
    * Read the fan mail. The very characters that are not thrilling to you may be the audience’s favorites.
    * Be objective. When I came in to ATWT, the first thing I said was, what is pleasing the audience? You have to put your own personal likes and dislikes aside and develop the characters that the audience wants to see.
    * Talk to everyone; writers and actors especially. There may be something in a
    character’s history that will work beautifully for you, and who would know better than the actor who has been playing the role?
    * Don’t change a core character. You can certainly give them edges they didn’t have before, or give them a logical reason to change their behavior. But when the audience says, “He would never do that,” then you have failed.
    * Build new characters slowly. Everyone knows that it takes six months to a
    year for an audience to care about a new character. Tie them in to existing characters. Don’t shove them down the viewers’ throats.
    * If you feel staff changes are in order, look within the organization first. P&G [Procter & Gamble] does a lot of promoting from within. Almost all of our producers worked their way up from staff positions, and that means they know the show.
    * Don’t fire anyone for six months. I feel very deeply that you should look at the show’s canvas before you do anything.
    * Good soap opera is good storytelling. It’s very simple.

    Douglas Marland is considered by many as one of the greatest head writers ever.
    Marland was a former head writer ofAs The World Turns, Guiding Light, and General Hospital. He worked as a writer on Another World and co-created Loving.
    He won multiple Emmy awards and Soap Opera Digest awards. Marland, a
    former actor, loved daytime. He passed away on March 6, 1993.

    This article was published in the April 27, 1993 issue of Soap Opera Digest.

    Reply

  23. Melly says:

    Sorry, but all the stuff they she said the did, they botched. Bringing back legacy characters is the #1 botch, IMO. They brought back AE as Tina and it was AWFUL, they didn’t use her properly. Same can be said for all Cramers, the Gannons, and probably many others I can’t think of off the top of my head. I was thrilled that RJ and Hank were coming back, but they were back for one or two day, and RJ never saw Rachel or Hank, what!? They can’t just bring these fans favorites back for a few days and expect magic.
    Truthfully I felt for YEARS that Brian Frons was purposefully trying to sabotage soaps, not help them. ABC needs to respect their fans, and IMO all she is doing is sucking up and trying not to burn bridges.
    In the past six months OLTL has been doing much better overall. It still need improving, but what a difference compared to last summer. They are using their stronger actors more, using the vets, using the legacy characters, using history, and the show has improved, I actually watch almost every episode now, last summer, I think I watched once every two weeks.

    Reply

  24. imasoapfan says:

    The second paragraph offends me. Obviously, we can’t go back in time, but there are realistic things that the execs could have done, and Sara Saedi should be able to list at least some things she would have done differently to better promote the ABC soaps.

    For example, she could have mentioned the lack of primetime advertising for soaps. Soap viewers watch dozens of ads for primetime programming each day, but there are no ads for soaps during primetime.

    Reply

  25. NUSA says:

    Talk about a cold piece of PR propaganda……; no feeling. Programming out mind want work. So, the VIP’s have tried everything…..; at least make it real. The rating boxes break up your equipment and other methods used for ratings should have gone out with the age of the dinosaur. Isn’t this the 21st century, or am I mistaken? Oh, and another thing, were the sick and and the disabled market even given a chance to be counted for viewing or even listening to the SOAPS everyday for those who could not see? What we need is subscriber Internet TV for our SOAPS. So it was implied that SOAPS have gone out; I don’t think so; not just yet, but the antiquated way of judgment and tabulation has in this fast moving time we are living in. Thousands of SOAP Fans use to attend Super Soap World; spending mega bucks on hotels, transportation, food and entertainment within the park; that event was stopped too. Walt Disney was about the dream and the dream has been killed a few years to early in a recognizable covert way. “Yes” with this comment, I’ll be added to your list history and thank you for taking the time to read this. America is all about being able to express one’s views on a subject that hits the heart, and right now, it’s ‘my soaps’.

    Reply

  26. gordo says:

    Soaps aren’t as tight as they used to be, really the narrative isn’t consistently as good. The actors are phenomenal, but I think they needed some new creative teams, or to shake them up or give them more time to write. I watch GH the most or used to, and there are HUGE holes in it, the whole cast isn’t being used effectively, the stories are more repetitive than they need to be, I know thats a part of soaps but they go above and beyond. They have horrible timing issues – stories moving too fast (bus crash, jakes death) or too slow (brenda, the balkan) but not usually just right, romances are something they just can not get at a good angsty interesting place — and thats the show thats not canned right now. I watch OLTL and am supporting it but I haven’t watched it consistently enough for years to pick at it, but GH and the other soaps are fixable – they don’t need stunts they need interesting addictive stories — and we need a better rating systems, not counting DVR’s and all that is silly.

    Also we ABC needs to look at other shows, look at the integrated family stuff at Y&R, and also look overseas, soaps thrive in other countries. The UK has some great stuff, borrow from primetime shows. They just need to up the quality not throw gimmicks at us.

    Reply

  27. kim says:

    There are more people that watch soaps than is being counted and they know that. The truth is they are looking for cheaper shows to put on thier networks, its all about the money to heck with the fact that people watched this with thier mother and the shows go from one generation to another. Advetisers have sold thier products with the loyalty of the daytime soap viewership now they should band together and follow hoover and say this is history you just don’t throw something historic out because its harder you fight and make it stronger after all this America its what we are built on, so I say other advertisers should join hoover and show thier loyal customers you have supported us all these years and now we will support you.

    Reply

  28. Erika says:

    The writing is a huge problem and the fans have been writing to TPTB for YEARS and have gotten no where. Now, if they had just looked at fan mail, emails and listened to comments left on comment lines, perhaps things would be different..

    I believe they survey themselves and that’s all they care about.

    I will never watch ABC again once all the soaps are gone.

    Reply

  29. Dale says:

    Well, we cannot argue that the numbers for supporting daytime soaps have diminished significantly over the past few years. Even in recent attempts to save the soaps, where are the numbers? A few thousand voices will not be enough to change all the advertisers or even a significant number of them to make a real impact on ABC. While I respect the fervor and rage about the cancellation of AMC and OLTL, ABC is not going to reverse its decisions. Sponsors are not going to pull out in droves. GH will be next soap to die and very, very soon. We can spin the wheels and send out letters and burn up phone lines, but unless the legion of fans is in the millions who will turn up the heat, it is a lost cause.

    The world is moving on past daytime soaps ala ABC style. The writing on AMC and OLTL was awesome and amazing more times than not. The writing for GH has lacked any real substance for a very long time. Current storylines are not progressive. Where is the diversity on GH? Blacks and Hispanics have not been represented adequately for a long time. Forget a gay/lesbian storyline. GH drops the ball on those kinds of stories. They are too afraid to even progress an interracial storyline of late for fear of viewer backlash? Why the hell would I want to support its continuation if it cannot even put forth the effort to advance diverse characters that look like the modern demographics. If this is the audience that they are catering to, then GH needs to go the way of the guillotine as well.

    Frons may be Lucifer incarnate, but they were some powers above him that made these close door decisions long ago. Frons if the cover band for the real Death Squad ABC. We may not like Ms. Saedi’s remarks, but the truth served warm rarely satisfies the palate of those who are hungry for a different fare.

    Reply

    Brooke replied

    That you, Saedi?

    Reply

  30. Brian Greene says:

    Sara Saedi is full of b***s***! She’s kissing Brian Frons’s a** big time!

    Reply

  31. slim says:

    Get with the times people – soaps are dead and I assure you, like any industry, feedback is always evaluated considered and implemented. This is cyclical and not new news: most game shows died, video killed the radio star, reality tv killed the video star, itunes killed the music stores, amazon will soon kill bookstores. Yes, you should absolutely mourn the loss, but don’t shoot the messenger.

    Reply

    Brooke replied

    Bull!

    Reply

  32. Tonia says:

    I think this is just excuses. I watched soaps since I was a child with my grandmother and mother. I’ve stopped watching soaps consistently not because I was busy working on getting a degree, working full time or raising children. I stopped because of the poor writing plot line wise and character wise. I stopped because of the couples they continually put together were lacking. I stopped because the female characters were constantly being portrayed as mindless objects just there as props for the male characters. I stopped because only a few actors were used over and over again day after day while others were missed if you dared blink and eye. I stopped because history was ignored and veteran characters were ignored or killed off. ABC did nothing to stop the decline of it’s daytime programming. If it had I would be tuning in, granted I would have to record it on my DVR and watch it when I got home but I would be watching. Daytime dramas are not the problem. These shows have been around for decades and have an audience that grew up watching them and passed it down as a right of passage if you will. Teenagers do watch shows with their parents. I should know I have three. Those in charge are the problem. They refused to listen to the outcry of their viewers, decided they knew best and in the end ran off millions.

    Reply

  33. FeFe says:

    I agree with what is said here. ABC did NOT do enough to keep these shows on. It is more cost effective for them to put on talk shows and reality shows. JUST BE TRUTHFUL! Quit kissing up to Frons and trying to make him feel good lady. OLTL had a million characters and they had a hard time writing for them. Hell, the writer was not good at all. Why not scale back the casts of these shows and get head writers who are talented and bring back the formula that made us fall in love. Yes, it’s true that the demos have gotten smaller but the audience is still there. I think this is a smack in the face.

    Reply

  34. Torrey says:

    Why doesn’t she talk about how ABC allowed Charles Pratt Jr., to literally write AMC into the ground for about two years, only to replace him with two more hacks that continued to write the show further in the ground. Let’s talk about killing off characters like Dixie & Stuart….two of your most beloved characters on the show….only to spend endless amounts of time propping up two characters that the fans don’t relate to and aren’t really that fond of. Let’s talk about how there has been a complete loss of what AMC used to be about….love, friendships, family, social issues. Where were those storylines? Guess I missed them.

    I don’t believe for one second that Brian Frons has been getting a bad wrap. He did what he wanted to do, with total disregard to all of the soap fans of ABC. Cause no one can give me a good reasoning as to why OLTL is being cancelled. It has been the “One Show” among all of the other soaps, in my opinion, that has kept me glued to the tv everyday. And I agree with another poster said before…maybe the networks should have devised a system to account for all of the fans that DVR their programs….cause there are a lot of us working individuals that record their soaps everyday. It’s the first thing I do, before I head out the door for work…set my DVR for OLTL. Something tells me, if someone did their research, they would find a lot of people record their shows so they can watch them when they get home.

    These networks get on my nerves with this demographic crap. I am a 32yo african-american man that loves to watch OLTL…and I have been watching for years and years….but I tell you this. Whatever you even think about putting in my soaps place, I will not be watching. So get ready for the hopes and dreams of this new programming schedule you have in mind to go right down the toilet.

    Reply

  35. Loretta Jamar says:

    I think there is a lot of truth to this, but instead of cutting the shows; they should have stepped out just a little more to find out who the fans are and how they feel; cut wardrobe, cut HD, don’t bring in the big time actors, just tell the story. I don’t know all the numbers, so I don’t know HOW bad the situation is, but there must have been a way to move the time slot and bring in some top notch research groups and creative groups to save the show. I still think the towel was thrown in too quickly

    Reply

    Rosie Peat replied

    I agree to a point. There’s definitely truth to the fact that there’s more competition for all shows and that viewing habits have changed and Nielsen’s haven’t kept pace, which has directly affected ratings for all shows. However, the statements about how Disney basically did everything they could and what more could we possibly want from them are complete and total bunk. They did exactly what you said in terms of official message boards, setting up Facebook pages and soliciting feedback there, the Insider’s Access focus group, and other focus groups as well. The problem is that they ignored the feedback they didn’t want to hear, went with the feedback that supported their opinions and already decided upon directions for the shows and characters, and then came back and blamed fans for low ratings. Inadvertently, fans were tellling them exactly how to cancel the shows by kvetching and providing constructive criticism and often at Disney’s request.

    I hope more companies decided to pull a Hoover and that ABC prime time ratings continue to be down through May sweeps. Perhaps that will catch the attention of those above Sweeney and Frons. We’re lucky, in a sense, regarding the timing of this because decisions have already been made regarding shows returning to the fall line up for the most part. We can’t really hurt those shows’ chances for renewal this late in the season by boycotting, but we can hurt Disney’s bottom line and make a statement, if enough people continue ot participate. DWTS was down 13% in ratings on Monday, Cougar Town 15%, Desperate Housewives about 7% with all the other Sunday shows showing declines in ratings too of about 5 – 8%. Boycotting the soaps, however, is nothing more than cutting off your nose to spite your face, and Castle has been very supportive of daytime soaps in many respects from season 1.

    Part of the reason this is such an issue for people is not just because the shows were canceled because that’s the nature of the beast in Hollywood, but it’s the manner in which Disney treated its employees. Allowing the cast and crew to move to LA knowing the show was on the chopping block is awful. Sweeney wants all three soaps gone so she knew it was only a matter of time even if AMC had survied this first round.

    Reply

  36. Gimme says:

    She is full of crap. And looking for future employment when this all ends. Period end of story.

    Reply

    Rosie Peat replied

    ding, ding, ding, exactly

    Reply

    slim replied

    you’re obviously not paying any attention. the writer is a former EX-ABC exec. if you would take the time to read the full blog you’d actually see she left the network for many of the same reasons fans have been frustrated. expert from blog:

    The main reason I quit my job is I felt I had little impact as an executive. It was incredibly difficult to get the writers to make significant changes to story. And incredibly frustrating when the negative feedback from fans merely echoed our own concerns about storylines. A huge part of being a good network exec is maintaining a good relationship with the show’s writers, but I got tired of stroking egos at the expense of storytelling. And the writing team I worked with was still getting the best ratings on the line up. I’d love for you guys to send me your top ten fave stories on an ABC soap and I’ll tell you which were suggested by the network and which were pitched by the HW. You might be surprised by the results. At the end of the day, the HW came up with some fantastic ideas and some not so fantastic ideas– the same goes for the execs

    Reply

    Brooke replied

    That you again, Saedi? You are so transparent.

    Gimme replied

    I did read the entire article. And I am well aware of the concept… not burning bridges, are you?. I think it goes with out saying she is ensuring her future employment by supporting what Frons spews that they have done.
    Personally, all the things she listed “they” did…. was lame & proves how out of touch TPTB are with the fans. We didnt ask for that endless list of STUFF. We begged for continuity, character driven stories, relying on history, stop block taping. That is nothing & wouldnt have cost the shows one extra dime… not even a penny. They ignored & continue to do so. Perhaps without even knowing it… she has been trained into the Frons mindset. I truly believe since 2008 Frons has been on a mission to kill these shows.

  37. Liz says:

    Warning – this is LONG. I have not aired my grievances yet so I am letting them out here.

    I have never once written to ABC daytime – the one instance where I saw it do good was the rehiring of Rebecca Herbst (my favorite soap actress of all time) but I was shocked and am not completely convinced it was not a publicity stunt (without her knowledge – tasteless and tactless either way).

    I am a rather pessimistic person, so while I am enraged by this news (even though I have never really watched OLTL or AMC) I just don’t think writing in to ABC in droves is going to accomplish anything. They have made up their minds and are sticking with it. (Shout out to Hoover though for pulling their ads! I hope more sponsors choose to do the same and the new shows premiere with abysmal viewership).

    I will, however, use this as a place to share my thoughts. I’m a GH viewer of almost 15 years now and if the 80s was the heyday I sadly missed it, but I recall being obsessed with the show in the 90s. After 2002? The show went downhill and I became an on again off again viewer. I stopped watching all together 2 years ago and tuned back in only to see Jake’s death.

    Here are my thoughts:

    1) I believe that Brian Frons, his cohorts and supporters, have counted on and encouraged the decimation of soaps since the beginning of his tenure at the station.
    2) I do not believe that the brass at ABC daytime ever listened to what the fans truly wanted to see. Brian Frons made up his own mind about every decision and even admitted to wanting to “train” the fans to like the characters, storylines and pairings he likes. Unsurprisingly, that obviously didn’t work.
    3) Stunt casting will bring in viewers for a short time – but they are tuning in to watch the actor (James Franco for example) and will tune back out when he leaves.
    4) Increased special effects are a waste of money. Seeing Jason flying toward Wyndemere on a boat in a storm was just ridiculous. If I want to see special effects I’ll go to the movies. This is not what anyone should expect from soaps.
    5) Bringing back legacy characters is a good idea ONLY when they are brought back for a lengthy time with logically thought out story ideas and integration back into the cast. I am just sick at how long Genie Francis wanted to return and was denied being given more than a few weeks here and there just to have her character end up as a broom with a wig on it again and again. An actress of that caliber and history deserves better. ABC is out of their minds for not bringing her back – think of the fans who would tune back in to see her in a legitimate storyline!
    6) Killing off legacy characters and fan favorites is never, ever a good idea. More people may tune in to see a character die, but if it is a fan favorite those fans are going to tune right back out again. No one wants to see their favorite characters and actors brought back as ghosts, hallucinations, or evil gum-chewing twins. Just keep the character in the first place and write for them!
    7) I only watch GH but I’m guessing this is applicable to OLTL and AMC as well. Screen time and storylines should be more evenly divided among the cast. Yes, I will fully acknowledge that, although I loathe them, Sonny and Jason have a strong following and have been on the show long enough that they are required to appear in a certain number of episodes. But having Dante appear in almost every episode in one year? Ridiculous. Even if I love a character I’m going to get burned out if I see them day after day after day rehashing the same conversations. Mix it up! 8) Again, this only applies to GH but I’m sure OLTL and AMC have similar but different cases. Yes, I understand that some of the fans out there love the mob angle. I do not, but I will acknowledge it. But why does everything have to be about that one aspect of the show? Yes it’s exciting to see a car chase or an explosion or someone getting shot from time to time – it’s standard in soaps, but that’s NOT what I tune in to see.
    9) Things I would like to see on GH (and all soaps) and I hope (and assume) I am not alone in feeling this: emotional ties, familial ties, friendship, new fresh young characters that are tied to legacy characters and make sense on the canvas (this is how you will bring in younger viewers!), featuring of veterans prominently in stories and giving them the respect they deserve, love, passion, slow building sizzling romances, angst, drama, heartbreak, consistent writing with nods to history, well paced storylines that develop in a way that makes sense, and more stories for actors who have been on the show for years rather than newbies who have no connection to the canvas.
    10) I don’t think Brian Frons should be blamed soley – there are other people who should shoulder responsibility as well – he is just the face of it all. But I do believe 100% that he and his regime did not listen to what the fans truly want and did nothing to fix the soaps that are on. If they were drowning and going down in ratings, he let them, knowing all along he would be able to plug cheaper shows in their spots. He was just waiting for the day I’m sure. I do not believe he will do a single thing to save GH – we will see no changes. He is happy it is sinking and it is only a matter of time before it goes under as well.

    Reply

  38. Terry G. says:

    Several things occurs to me as I read this and the comments…
    1) she has some valid points but misses many –Soaps are a traditional generational effort. My nieces watch because I watch they are 13 and 15. I watched because my mom did and she because of her mom. That is still the case for many households I know- didn’t track the numbers well in my mind.
    2) there seems to have been a huge misstep in the whole Latina telenovella argument…people watched those because they were dramatic television not a glorification of a few distinct characters. ABC consistently ignored it’s African American and Latino audiences. OLTL and AMC had minority actors who are contracted and till this day rarely used. It’s a joke. Fans would write and beg and spend lots of money to get them to pay attention to these extroadinarily young, talented individuals. Instead they were used to prop up their favorite caucasions with no story and absolutely no care or concern for creating a strong ensemble cast
    3) many people are arguing their points using GH; the one show that is still going to remain on the air (although I doubt for very much longer)- here lies the problem, too much attention has been paid to GH and AMC and OLTL were micro Managed into the gorund.
    4) SoapNet was never used to its potential. When it first came on we were all enthralled with shows like Soapopgraphy, the talks shows and the original programming that enhanced our soap viewer experience. Some idiot came along and decided that 10 episodes of this repeat and that old show were what we wanted to see…not so much ABC/Disney again micromanaged into the ground.
    5) and Lastly, I will never forget the day that I read that Brian Frons quote that essentially said something like Soap Fans don’t know what they want they need us to tell them what they like…that was several years ago. I knew then the genre was on its way out because anytime some clown comes out and disrespects their audience that much then the audience was fighting a losing battle. I felt then as I do now that Frons was on a mission to destroy this genre.

    I don’t believe he has done it alone, I do believe we fans with our crazy couple love and silly demands on the network have helped…I do believe that we have to take some of the pain here…I’ve said this many times, you can’t bash the shows, bash the actors, be ugly to people and make unreasonable demands and then be surprised when the shows come to an end. As a 40+ year watcher of ABC Daytime and one who has attended almost every event ABC has ever held in this COUNTRY, I am sad but realistic about the fact that this genre has come to an end and many have played a part in ending it.

    Reply

  39. Bry says:

    This thread is deliciously insane. Kudos to the soap fans here for spending their free time understanding the economic underpinnings of such a challenging format.

    If every soap fan watched daytime TV every day for three hours it still would not amass enough eyeballs and time to make it a worthwhile venture in such a fractionalized world of media choice (and choices in general…careers, fitness, family… who has the time?).

    The societal constructs of today just don’t jive with a TV concept from yesteryear…and too few people out there interested in the format to continue producing it. Creatively, you could give it an Aaron Sorkin writing team and a Michael Bay production budget and still not enough people would turn out to generate a reasonable financial return.

    You hate on the networks but at the end of the day they like the status quo more than anyone! We’re not talking about a crazy new generation of innovators here. Imagine how much they must have been losing to see the writing on the wall and finally pull the plug.

    Reply

    Liz replied

    Thank you for belittling the fans’ passion for this genre and our intelligence at the same time – and for insinuating that we don’t have lives.

    I didn’t tune out because I was distracted by other media or because I work a demanding full time job and don’t sit at home all day. I tuned out because I was sick of sh*tty writing, decimation of history, disrespect of legacy characters and actors that I had grown to love, and too much time and energy focused on the same characters and repetitive, recycled story lines.

    I can be on my computer at work all day, post on facebook repeatedly, write a blog entry, tweet, go to a 3D movie, come home at night and still tune into GH if I want to. I have the crazy ability to multi-task like that. I know, it’s weird!

    I’m not saying there weren’t other factors or that there is only one person to blame, and I’m not going to speculate on the economy because I don’t feel that is something I can speak to. I’m not that naive. But the fans deserve way more respect than they’ve gotten over the past 10 years and they have every right to be hurt and angry.

    The one thing they never tried was quality storytelling and listening to what their fans really wanted.

    Reply

    Terri W. replied

    Agreed!!! You are absolutely right, Liz!

    Elizabeth replied

    Well put, Liz!

    Dale replied

    I co-sign your posting. Very well said. The crazies are coming out in droves. They are even starting to bash Oprah Winfrey who graciously declined her assistance in propping these shows on her network. Now they are acting like spoiled rotten children calling for her demise?

    Ridiculous. Let’s get on with living our lives and spending time with our families. The era for episodic daily drama is over. Our own daily lives are dramatic enough. Don’t need to see poorly written crap every day.

    Hoover pulled out…Yippee do rah. But let’s see how long the 5,500 fans that are blowing up facebook can keep Hoover’s sales up. It will not happen. I give another week and this will all blow over.

    Maybe Tyler Perry will make a movie called Diary of Mad Soap Fan and donate the proceeds to the crews on the cancelled shows. The actors need to start auditioning or find a new craft. I was laid off twice in the past two years, and I managed to survive. You may have to cut back and live within your means, but you won’t die doing so either. I have no sympathy for the over-paid mediocre talent that is freaking out that their day jobs are going away when there are hundreds of thousands of educated Americans who can’t find quality mid pay jobs. My sympathy is for real America. Soaps be damned!

    Reply

    Brooke replied

    Bry….why are you even posting here? Go away.

    Reply

    Brooke replied

    Dale, you too.

  40. Terri W. says:

    If ABC brought back “legacy characters”, it was only for the Sweeps periods to boost ratings. They would dangle these characters (that the fans had been clamoring for, but on a LONG term basis) in front of viewers and then the characters would be gone once the Sweeps period was over. That left MANY fans feeling USED. There has been NO better soap lately than OLTL! The writing, directing and performances have been brilliant, incorporating the history of the show and core, veteran actors alongside the newer, younger actors. The differences in the ratings between OLTL and GH, in my opinion, can only come down to the fact that GH is on in a later time slot, when many kids have gotten out of school. That’s why AMC and OLTL are watched on Hulu, You Tube, SoapNet, etc. But, those viewings do not count toward the overall ratings of each show. As for the remarks in the article stating that they can’t take women out of the workforce and make them watch daytime TV: then who is their “target audience” for these two new crap reality shows they want to slap on the airwaves? What a LAME EXCUSE! The shows aren’t exactly geared toward MALES. I am so tired of the blatant disrespect and disregard that we fans of the soaps have had to endure for YEARS. Frons is an IDIOT and the first cost-cutting measure should have been with his position and his paycheck! Here’s to the RESURGENCE of the soap genre!!! Everything old is NEW again!

    Reply

  41. Cher says:

    There was a protest against Brian Frons back in Oct. 2007, people wanted him fired then from ABC to save our soaps and Anne Sweeney was President then. Since Frons was behind the cancellation of the Soap *Search For Tomorrow* from CBS and NBC, he was probably hired at ABC to get all their soaps cancelled! Nothing was done to save the soaps, its all money money money, they don’t care about the viewers! http://falloffrons.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  42. Maureen says:

    Wow alot of people on here in denial about what is really going on here. Why is it every time someone says an ounce of truth regarding the dim outlook for soaps, people automatically call that person a crony for the “bigwigs”?

    If one looks at the ratings for television in general, the ratings went down across the board. That is because of a cultural revolution. Its not just the fact that people have multiple ways to watch a show now, but now cable channels are making their own shows rather than just airing syndicated shows of the past and current. A show that 20 years ago would have gotten 40 million views, now gets less than 20 million, if they are lucky.

    Denial about the sad state of affairs that soaps are in isn’t going to save what soaps are left. Instead of blaming Frons, Oprah, Rachel Ray, or anyone else that doesn’t cry in sorrow over AMC and so on, why not look for all of the factors that affect soaps? For starters, why not look at the actual writers themselves? Why not change the formula of soaps? In fact, that is a major problem right now, because soaps have kept with the old formula when the rest of television evolved, they became a dying breed, just like Blockbuster.

    There is alot more to this than the actions of one man or one channel. ABC canceling 2 of its 3 soaps is part of a larger picture that goes well beyond Disney/ABC.

    As long as people keep denying it, the soaps will continue to die off. In fact, with the way people are acting in their comments, I wouldn’t blame NBC and ABC for canceling their last soap and just get out of the soap business alltogether, what is the point in staying in something that not only are you not making much money in, but the audience wants to blame you for whenever things don’t go their way?

    Reply

    Dale replied

    Co-sign. Great post. I love it when rational and intelligent people comment.

    Godspeed.

    Reply

    Terri W. replied

    Watching and loving the soaps does not make someone an IR-rational or UN-intelligent being anymore than someone NOT loving and watching soaps is automatically a level-headed genius. That’s the ridiculous stigma soap fans have had to endure for so long and we’re sick and tired of it. If you have not been a soap fan, then you would not KNOW that—FOR YEARS—we have been desperately attempting to get the soaps (and their networks) to tweak their formula—improve the writing to make it more realistic in order to bring it in line with today’s sensibilities. I’ve often commented on soap message boards that the viewers of today are not the same as in 1968 or even 1980 and lack of realistic stories were part of soaps’ problems. We are much more knowledgable about various aspects of police and medical processes and procedures and therefore, we will not just “suspend disbelief” when the stories become ludicrous. There are too many programs available on channels where they have the freedom to portray situations in a much more realistic light and while network TV soaps are always at the mercy of behind-the-times censors (ABC lives in a Disney-world after all), they still could use what they DO have that other shows lack, HISTORY, to bring the soaps up to speed. Many of us kept suggesting they listen to the fans and do whatever they could to get former fan favorites BACK on the shows to raise ratings. The people at these networks did not try to fix these problems. In fact, they continued doing the exact OPPOSITE of what fans were asking. Dropping veteran actors who were integral to the stories and were very much beloved by the viewers. In doing THAT, storylines that should have involved those important characters seemed less realistic and lost any real emotional impact. There is no other genre in television to compare to the soaps. With the exception of 60 Minutes, no other TV programs have run as long. These shows have become family traditions, passed down from one generation to the next. This is where fans’ passion comes into play. There is an emotional tie that you don’t find with other types of shows. The “reality” shows on TV today (you think fans of those shows are ROCKET SCIENTISTS???) are nothing more than disposable garbage. Like fast food, everything seems to be designed for easy-in, easy-out. But, there will ALWAYS be a desire for good story-telling. It’s in our nature, no matter how much the technological world would like to deny or downplay it. And to simply brush all of these fans off as being “irrational” and “unintelligent” demonstrates to me that YOU are the one who is IGNORANT and ARROGANT. Are you related to Brian Frons, by any chance? I see similar personality traits.

    Reply

    Maureen replied

    I never said that so take a chill pill. Getting offended over every little remark whether real or imagined, isn’t helping the situation.

    Brooke replied

    Well said,Terri. I co-sign YOUR post!

    Terri W. replied

    @Maureen: No, thank you, I don’t believe I will take a “chill pill”. (Really? A “chill pill”??) I’m not offended, I’m simply fed up. You have every right to voice your opinion and guess what—so do I. You might want to consider, just for a second, that not ALL soap fans are “in denial”, nor are we out of touch with reality. Many of us have more knowledge of the TV industry and just how it operates than you realize. You want to make it appear that soap fans just want to lay the blame on everyone else while they turned a blind eye to the truth. There are a LOT of reasons for what is happening to the soaps and some of them ARE the fault of the management at these networks. The networks turn around and tell the fans, “well, you weren’t watching and we were losing money” and to that I say, “well, we were TELLING you why we weren’t watching and you did nothing ABOUT it”. It’s a two-way street.

    And thank you, Brooke, for the vote of confidence.

    Maureen replied

    Brook and Terry, if you want to save your soaps, stop blaming those who disagree with you. Keep on pushing away pragmatic realist thinkers who actually give sound advice as to how you can try and save your soaps. You guys do realize that ABC and other networks can’t afford to keep these airing these soaps as they are, right? If you want to save them, rather than force a network to go into bankruptcy to keep yourself happy for a few more months, why not actually propose realistic changes that these channels could make.

    But in order to do that, you must stop blaming everyone who doesn’t say “save our soaps” or “it is your fault this is happening frons”. Blaming people WILL NOT save your soaps at all. It will only ENCOURAGE the networks to get out of the soap business.

    You can keep on being abusive towards me and Dale and others who are trying to stay logical about the situation and totally divert the real source of problems for soaps, but in the end, Dale and I won’t suffer the side effects. It will be people like you, the diehard fans of soaps that will pay for not taking this situation seriously.

    You can’t save your soaps by getting all emotional over it and trying to punish an entire network. This is about finances and unless you can present a financial plan that works, your soaps are going to keep dying. So stop asking for networks to go into bankruptcy and come up with a plan that these networks can implement. ABC is not going to take anyone serious if all they do is get on a computer and say “this is your fault Frons!!” and other illogical rants.

    Barelia Sanders replied

    Terry, so far you nor most of the people on here have not said anything other than blaming Frons and ABC. So for all intents and purposes, there is alot of denial going on. Instead of fighting me over this, why not use that energy to really find out why soaps are dying rather than blaming people for it and vilifying people.

    Maureen is spot on in every way possible. Every rational person on this board is being ignored in favor of the preferred “its all ABC’s fault”. Come on, the blame game is old.

    But you just keep on the path you and others are going on. In a few years time, the daytime soaps will be dead because no one wanted to take people like Maureen seriously.

    None of you are suggesting actual solutions to the problem. None of you are looking at the big picture. None of you want to accept the real situation at hand.

    Start giving some real constructive criticisms rather than usual blaming of anyone who dare has the courage to say something different.

    Barelia Sanders replied

    I agree with you Maureen. I used to love General Hospital but fell out of favor with it a few years ago.

    I have definitely noticed that alot of soap fans are doing nothing but yelling but saying nothing productive.

    Those who blame Frons and company are just trying to take the easy way out. Those people do not care to save our soaps they just want to punish someone.

    Boycotting ABC will not work. Soap viewership is only a fraction of ABC viewership altogether. Besides, I have noticed that the soap fans most upset by all this are the ones who don’t even watch that much primetime anyways. And those who are boycotting need to realize that it is not right to punish everyone else for the actions of a few. Your decision to do this, will not bring your shows back at all. Would you want to be blamed for the actions of someone else? No. So don’t do it to others.

    But you are so very right that if people don’t start waking up to the real problems facing soaps, the remaining soaps will die. Haven’t people realized that it is just too easy to say its the fault of Frons? Can’t we get some common sense here? If Frons were the source of all problems facing soaps, then this would not be as big of a problem as it is.

    I try to distance myself from the soap fans who go around blaming ABC for all this because they are not helping the cause, they are only making it worse. They aren’t doing one single thing to actually save our soaps, they are just trying to see to it that as you said, Maureen, the networks get out of the soap business altogether.

    I am so ashamed and embarrassed that my fellow soap fans are letting themselves be fooled into thinking that that this is a simple problem created by Frons.

    Behind every movement in society was someone who did not let their emotions get the best of them. They did not play the blame game. What they did is they went to a drawing board and strategically highlighted the problems and potential solutions.

    Sure protesting gets you attention, but do you really think its going to make ABC listen? You’d have to be pretty naive to think that.

    I just hope that my fellow soap fans will stop vilifying people like you, Oprah, and whomever else and realize that what you and they are saying has alot of truth to it, and rather than deny it, we try to work within in that.

    Reply

    Terri W. replied

    If you actually read what I wrote, I wasn’t blaming those who disagree, I was stating that all the blame should not be leveled at the fans who HAVE tried to get through to the powers that be. The gist of my post was that there is PLENTY of blame to go around on BOTH sides. I watch both daytime and primetime shows. When I’m working, I DVR the daytime shows during their original airing. I know many people (in the coveted demographic, no less–woo hoo) who are not home to watch the daytime soaps and view them on SoapNet only. Well, they were surprised to find out that viewing or DVR/Tivo-ing these shows at any time other than their original airing or in a format (e.g. SoapNet, Hulu, You Tube) other than network TV does not even COUNT toward the ratings of that show. The way they collect ratings needs to be overhauled, as well. People do not watch television the way they used to in the past and it’s naive of the networks to think they can continue basing ratings (revenue) on an archaic (and highly fallible) formula. Another possible solution would have been to consider returning the soaps to a half hour format instead of canceling them outright. That would have cut costs to some degree. But, the FACT remains that the viewers have tried to reach TPTB at these networks, pleading with them to make changes to improve the shows, detailing the changes they would need to make to bring people back and all of this fell on deaf ears. It’s great to suggest constructive changes, but they don’t amount to anything if the people in a position to initiate these strategies are ignoring you. You can’t get through to people who already have their own agenda front and center and are more interested in promoting that. I’m not “vilifying” anyone, I simply believe that you are suggesting that soap fans are an unrealistic group of whiners who want to dump blame on everyone else and that isn’t the truth either. Brian Frons is being vilified not just for the decision to cancel those soaps, but for the WAY in which he has been going about it. If it’s too much for him to take, he should find another line of work.

    I also am aware that this problem with the daytime soaps stretches across the board to ALL the networks. After all, Another World, Passsions (which hadn’t been around very long, but had developed quite a cult following), Guiding Light and As The World Turns were the first to go and none of them were on ABC.

    Soap fans may be a “fraction” of the primetime viewing audience, but there are certainly enough of them to make a dent. And, as I said, there are more people watching than the networks realize, they just have not been watching in a counted format. Viewers’ protests and campaigns HAVE worked in the past to save beloved shows (and recently led to Rebecca Herbst’s rehiring at General Hospital after her unceremonious firing by ABC—they seem to be doing a lot of that “dumping without any prior warning” these days—so sorry, Tyler Christopher!). And here’s a newsflash for you: if someone with power has their own plan in mind to dismantle an established practice in the workplace (no matter WHAT type of business it may be), even your “realistic and constructive” suggestions wouldn’t make one bit of difference. The best plans or suggestions will all come out sounding like “yada, yada, yada” to that person. And whether or not YOU want to accept it, THAT is a FACT.

  43. Lexi says:

    After reading that article and seeing that they were only worried about the 18 to 34 year old demographics, I say I don’t want to watch NBC. What am I, dead because I am 54? I spend my money the same as the 18 to 34 year olds. If it wasn’t for us baby boomers growing up watching the soaps, NBC wouldn’t be where they are today. But then again, didn’t Comcast purchase the NBC network? If so that speaks volumes. Comcast doesn’t know which way they are going. I really don’t think we need another talk show or game show, so what else is there to put in place of the soaps. Hope they go under for being idiots.

    Reply

    Terri W. replied

    Another antiquated formula, Lexi, The “coveted demographics” of advertising, put in place in another day and age. 50 today is not the 50 of yesteryear. You don’t suddenly stop trying new things simply because you have a 50th birthday anymore than someone younger automatically spends like crazy on anything new. In fact, in this economy, I know more older people with plenty of disposable income than friends my age and younger. Money spends the same, no matter what age you happen to be.

    Reply

  44. Terri W. says:

    And just for the record, if soaps are simply to be written off as a “dying breed”, someone had better tell that to TNT. Their new version of Dallas, debuting this fall I believe, is very highly anticipated by fans of the old series and many younger people who have watched the old series and fallen in love with it. I would love to see it become wildly successful.

    Reply

    Barelia Sanders replied

    Soaps aren’t a dying breed. Its daytime soaps that are a dying breed. How do I know? The fact that soaps are getting canceled but are not being replaced by another soap. Primetime dramas aka soaps are thriving well.

    Reply

    Terri W. replied

    Well, there you go. You offered a solution for the daytime soaps.

  45. Connie says:

    I think that her comments are ridiculous!!! I take offense to her snide remarks of the “things we did not do”….to ludicrous t0 repeat!!! Why in the world do they think that another talk show/self-help/reality show is needed ? I take offense to these comments that the “suits” make.

    Reply

  46. Charlotte says:

    How does Sara Saedi know that children don’t watch the soaps with their mothers? She and Frons did not ask the public what they watch or like/not like!!! They all have their stupid heard up their asses!!!!!! Fire all of them!!!!!!!!

    Reply

    Bry replied

    you’re crazy

    Reply

  47. jbj says:

    I don’t get why they have to cancel SoapNet, too. If they have a plan in place for another Disney kids channel, can’t they do like TVland or The N and have SoapNet at night? Then they can move all three ABC soaps to SoapNet and finish the night with classic episodes. They will increase their live viewership and keep the regular viewers happy. They can’t even use Passions as an excuse not to try it, because the established shows wouldn’t be alone (or the lowest rated soaps on TV).
    Moreover, if it were a Disney teen network during the day, then they could help build the future audience because they’d be more inclined to continue to watch the shows airing in the evenings. Having cable subscriber helps offset any loss in advertising revenue, so there shouldn’t be any need for significant budget reductions. Soap audiences are on par with, if they don’t exceed, that of top much more expensive, non-subscription shows like Mad Men or The Shield or Breaking In. Plus, they might be more inclined to experiment with talented writers like GH: Night Shift’s Sri Rao, who would cost less than The Guza.

    I don’t disagree with Sara Seadi’s argument that soap execs have tried a myriad of ways to attract viewers, but I don’t think that they’ve gone about their attempts in a coherent way. Taking the models that they’ve tried and consolidating them would make a lot more sense than completely eliminating a genre or system. She was completely right to say that daytime soaps are failing because our lifestyles have changed, but the culture itself hasn’t. In a world were there are dozens of networks based on showing reruns of shows still on the air (in particular that one that shows nothing but L&O, CSIs, and NCISs), I really cannot believe they cannot find a place within the ABC-Disney family to air new episodes of the 3 soaps.

    Reply

  48. Leona says:

    When and where are the save the soap rallies? I have been waiting for breaking news of million soap fan marches in the streets. Did I miss it?

    Oh, perhaps it’s because the numbers are not there. Or maybe because we have high unemployment and middle and lower class Americans are trying to maintain their livelihood rather than worry about a non-essential service like soap opera salvation. Towns are being blown away by tornadoes and violent storms. Food and gas prices are soaring. That’s the daytime drama most Americans are living.

    Reply

    Bry replied

    amen sister.

    Reply

    Terri W. replied

    There are a number of rallies going on. Go to Facebook “Save AMC and OLTL”. Thousands have been flooding the offices of ABC and their advertisers with letters, e-mails, phone calls, etc, Word has it that ABC is feeling the heat, but Disney has yet to feel it, so now attention has turned to Disney. Hoover has pulled its ads from ABC and has launched its OWN campaign. E-Mail: SaveOurSoaps@hoover.com Last I heard, L’Oreal and Hershey are also considering pulling advertising from ABC. Catherine Hickland (ex-Lindsay on OLTL) staged a protest with fans outside Disneyland. Whether or not any of this helps, at least they can say they tried and didn’t just stand by and do nothing.

    As for the economic times we live in and acts of nature, that is when many people have turned to soaps as a way to escape, even if for a brief time. (And let’s consider that hundreds of people involved with AMC and OLTL will soon be out of work, as well.) Just because someone is trying to save a beloved show, does not mean they don’t ALSO speak up or protest on behalf of larger issues. I do.

    Reply

  49. leah says:

    I say that when AMC was moved to California and oLTL was left alone to die-it came to life and started to climb in the ratings. Frons two babies that he paid all the attention to started to fall in the ratings… He was either to hands on or he worked his ass off to sabotage those shows so he could have reason to cancel.. why dont we fire frons and Sweeney then see how the soaps do after a year. I bet they take number one.
    Frons does not like soaps… and he has proved that with the soaps cancelled when he worked on other net works… Money talks and bull shit walks…Disney will cover for him. Oprah and every one else will too… because they are part of a money chain where the rich take care of the rich. And the poor get no say… well wake up America… and smell the coffee.. and shame on everyone who says its over and dont fight… if a serial killer kidnapped u would you fight for you life giving yourself a chance or would you give up and die… I would hope the answer is fight… if NBC does pick up OLTL and keep it in NY with the same writers. and puts it on after or before Y&R it will be unstoppable…. and i would love to see the look on disney’s face… Boycott Disney take your kids to Six Flags – great adventure .. any place but Disney.. POOR WALTER DISNEY is turning in his grave…

    Reply

  50. lovelure says:

    Missed this post when it came out and just saw it referenced in today’s “producer” post.

    My first response when reading the laundry list of things they tried? Sheesh! No WONDER they failed – it looks like they went with the kitchen sink/tactic du jour plan rather than deciding what would make a larger core audience watch their show and stick with them.

    I’m not an ABC watcher, and Ms Saedi doesn’ t have a Wiki. Her IMDb lists her at AMC only for 2010. If ABC really tried all the things she lists (which I don’t doubt) “In the time I was at ABC” then I’m amazed their viewers didn’t get whiplash!

    Part of the problem with all network television these days is the “let’s toss everything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality. If a show isn’t successful after a couple of episodes these days, the network pulls the plug and stuffs in another copycat reality series or reruns until a midseason replacement can be found.

    Gone are the days when a groundbreaking shows like Dallas (whose pre-launch miniseries was ranked #44) or MASH (who was at risk for cancellation in its first season) had the luxury of time to find their audience. Yes, I know times are different – people have more entertainment options and the industry is much more competitive.

    However, if someone had the guts to take a chance on something they really believed in, what would happen? Someone at CBS obviously thought these shows had a chance and left them on the schedule. And once viewers got used to their new forms of storytelling, they took off. Both these shows had a clear concept and a vision that they largely stuck to over the years – and ultimately delivered record-breaking ratings along the way.

    But as I wrote the last sentence, I came to a realization. Even those two great and super-successful shows came to an end, despite staying mostly true to their original concepts. Many would argue that they largely jumped the shark a season (or two or three) before the network finally allowed them to end, losing their stable ratings. By the time they ended, many of the shows’ stars had long-previously lost interest and plotlines were getting ever more off-topic.

    Now that I think about it, it’s pretty obvious that they jumped the shark because they outlived their creators’ creative wells. How many affairs can any Ewing have? How many times can JR screw over Cliff? How much more can Hawkeye hate the war? How many more times can Charles get his comeuppance?

    And perhaps, therein lies the rub. How many shows (that last more than 3-5 years) DON’T eventually jump the shark? Very few. Perhaps only the ones where the creative visionaries say “I’m going to quit while I still like my show, and before I run out of ideas.”

    Using primetime as a benchmark, with the constraints of the same setting and the same character, it’s hard to imagine NOT running out of ideas or deviating from the core. But soaps by their very nature are supposed to run in perpetuity.

    Then consider this: Dallas completed 357 episodes in 13 seasons; MASH, 251 episodes in 11 seasons. A typical soap does 250 episodes EVERY YEAR. Forever, we’d thought. In that context, it’s amazing that the soap writers didn’t run out of ideas after a year or two.

    So how to inject new life into a soap? Two obvious answers – new characters/settings, and new writers. But the challenge is to introduce new characters and writers while still respecting the show’s history. Soap fans who have watched for decades know that so-and-so’s little brother was actually born fifty years ago on a boat not in a hospital and was despised by his father because he was delivered by his stepbrother (or whatever). It’s pretty hard to convey that level of detail to a (hopefully talented and innovative) writer who might not even be 30 or 40 years old.

    Similarly, how to introduce new characters without reducing air time for long-time favorites? Not easy. But based on the soaps’ histories, I tend to believe it can be done, but it takes a visionary, not management-by-trial-and-error. Someone who can pick the characters who resonate, and create compelling storylines for them that hook viewers in and get them to stick. Some names that come to mind are Douglas Marland and Irna Phillips.

    If they were still alive, would our soaps be, too? Don’t know. But unfortunately for soap fans, it’s now too late to know.

    Reply

  51. lovelure says:

    P.S. I just reread Sara’s post and checked Wiki. Of course, Agnes Nixon should be included on my list of visionary storyteller. I’d mistakenly thought she’d passed away (sorry, Agnes!). My next thought was, even if she’s not up for the day-to-day responsibilities of being a writer, couldn’t she be engaged on a consulting basis? I see from Wiki that AMC did just that with her in the late 1990s.

    Michael – do you happen to know if Agnes Nixon was approached by any of the dying soaps to act as a consultant? And if so why it didn’t happen? Of course, if it’s her personal choice/health issues/whatever, I don’t want to pry – she certainly owes the industry nothing, but seeing the mass chaos in the industry makes me wonder about this.

    Reply

  52. Brian Greene says:

    I truly hate the word demographics–Yuck!

    Reply

  53. David G says:

    While I agree with some of Ms Saedi’s comments she fails to realize that so many of the tactics she mentioned came as too little, too late. The problem of eroding soap ratings should have been addressed by the late 90s.

    Reply

  54. Cherie says:

    Good interview. She sounds quite logical and reasonable imo. I watch soaps sporadically now, and on YT, if that. The super rabid soap fans need to cool it. The lady is not trying to insult YOU. She’s saying viewership, IN GENERAL, for the soaps is done. Meaning, people who are not avid soap fans, are not watching soaps anymore. OBVIOUSLY, you guys who are avid soap fans, who watch every day, or even watch on DVR or the internet, are still watching…which is why there’s still a few million viewers counted in the soap viewership. But, soaps…and any program really…needs more than just a few core million viewers. For shows to be profitable, there needs to be increased viewership from OTHER people too….not just the soap fans who are still watching. Peace out. Again, nice article. Gives a good insight & perspective into the running of a soap from an “exec’s” viewpoint.

    Reply

  55. margie Dalton says:

    Please please let me know is it true my favorite GH is going too. OMG I pray this is a lie. Please. Thank you very much. Margie

    Reply

  56. Richard says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I just read Sara Saedi’s comments. What a bunch of crap. First of all i am a 58 year old male who happens to work in the TV industry. I started watching
    soaps back in 1962 when I was 11 years old. I got home from school every day at 3:30. At 4:30p I watched The Edge of Night – religiously. So did millions of other school kids and adult males. Then the brains at P & G moved Edge to an earlier time period. Surprise. The ratings dropped.
    In every other country soaps air in the evening. And they are still going strong.
    Here’s the truth about what ABC failed to do.
    The first airing of each soap episode should have been on Soapnet…at night., with the episode repeat airing on the broadcast network the following day.
    Issue #2 – A terrible thing happens when you don’t promote a show. Nothing. When was the last time any of us saw a promo for AMC or OLTL on network television during the evening hours.? On weekends?
    Issue #3 – Men watch soaps. I watched them when I was 11 and i’m still watching at 58. The networks have refused to acknowledge me as a viewer who matters. In the 50 years tfhat I have been watching soaps Nielsen has never contacted me.
    Sara needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

    Reply

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