The topic of course, that is on so many broadcasters, networks, production companies, actors and soap fans and pundits, is the harsh reality of what is happening to the shrinking daytime genre. With Oprah Winfrey bowing out after next season due to moving on with her next career move after 25 years of outstanding talk television, and Tyra Banks bailing on the talk format, and ATWT and GL already cancelled by the end of 2009, Bill Keveneny of USA today had this to say in his report out this week, in regards to the latest dilemmas facing soaps. Keveney had spoken with ABC head honcho Brian Frons and Soap Opera Digest’s Lynn Leahey.
“The cancellation of the lower-rated As the World Turns and Guiding Light does not mean the demise of the soap, says Lynn Leahey, editorial director of Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly. “There remains an avid following, if you tell the right story, people will follow it. Networks are cutting costs on their own shows (As the World Turns and Guiding Light are not network-owned) to make them financially viable, meaning lower salaries for stars and fewer lavish shoots,” Leahey says. ” ABC, for example, is moving production of All My Children from New York to Los Angeles to save money. Lots of times you can’t see (the cuts) on the screen,” she says.
Technology is bringing new competition and ways to reach women who aren’t at home, says Leahey. TV soap actresses Crystal Chappell and Martha Byrne have launched online soaps Venice and Gotham, respectively.
Networks and syndicators are embracing technology, too. All My Children, like General Hospital will be shot in high-definition, and greater use of CGI will allow “spectacular stunts,” ABC Daytime president Brian Frons says.
“Soaps aren’t all on the bubble. In the end, the strong shows will remain, Frons says. “Some (soaps) have been on many years, so people feel the need to make sage-like statements about the future of the genre. Nobody makes those statements when a sitcom or long-running drama dies. It’s the end of that program, and that’s the way we should look at it as well.”
So as we ring in a new decade and a new year in 2010, can soaps last another decade? The jury is out. To read the entire USA piece, click here!