Sad news to report today. Deborah Blackwell, who was in charge of bringing SOAPnet to the forefront in its original version passed away on Friday after a seven-year battle with Pick’s disease, a rare neuro-degenerative disorder. According to Deadline.com, “Blackwell passed away at the age of 63 in Virginia, surrounded by family.”
Blackwell was named the cable channel’s General Manager from its inception in 2001 through to 2007. During her tenure, SOAPnet grew its programming slate via a slew of acquisitions of primetime and daytime soaps as well as its distribution as the genre enjoyed popularity. Deborah brought Soap Center, Soap Talk, I Wanna Be A Soap Star, Soapography, One Day With...” and other series and specials to the all-soap network along with ABC same day and date episodes of ABC’s All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital and later added Sony shows Days of our Lives and The Young and the Restless.
When Blackwell left her post in 2007, there was clearly a shift away from original programming to more programming acquisitions. It was after Blackwell left that daytime soaps began to lose traction, leading to Disney’s recent decision to rebrand SOAPnet as Disney Jr.
Before joining SOAPnet, Blackwell served as president of Idealab’s MyHome.com, an internet start-up. From 1993-99, Blackwell headed the TV movie and miniseries department of the William Morris Agency, packaging projects with such clients as Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover, Alec Baldwin and Drew Barrymore. Before becoming an agent, Blackwell was a development executive at Hearst Entertainment, rising from director to SVP.
So what do you think of the news of the passing of Deborah Blackwell? Do you enjoy SOAPnet in its original incarnation before it became watered down and away from its original concept? Let us know!