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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Will Prospect Park Save Our Suds?

Prospect Park the production company that was going to save One Life to Live and All My Children after their early demise at the hands of an ill-run ABC daytime is back in the soap genre’s orbit once again.  Or maybe it is trying to pull the soap genre into its orbit.  Honestly it a little hard to tell if this sudden reappearance is a good thing or a bad thing.  The reason for my confusion on this topic is that there simply isn’t enough information out there yet for me to make a decision about how I feel.  You can’t get the whole picture when pieces of the puzzle are missing.  

During Prospect Park's first attempt at launching the shows, I was very excited about the possibility of soaps pioneering television’s move to the internet.  There is actually a lot of information about how viewing habits are moving away from TV sets and towards online.  What better way to move into the future of entertainment than with a beloved genre with loyal fans?  Not to mention it would give these shows an opportunity to breath outside of the confines of ABC Daytime and its president at the time Brian Frons.  This excitement along with my heart was crushed when the Prospect Park venture failed.  And it failed quite epically.

While Prospect Park does produce quality shows for cable, it didn’t seem to know a lot about the soap genre.  The big question now is have they learn anything over this past year?  Let’s do a little comparison of the situation now and then.

In 2011, Prospect Park had Frank Valenti and Ron Carlavanti as the creative team for One Life to Live along with a handful of cast members attached.  Not as many were attached to All My Children.  Allegedly negotiations with Susan Lucci weren’t working out which may or may not have caused delays.  However not much more was known by not only fans but the cast and crew of this soap.  Prospect Park was simply not communicating to anyone.

When the ax fell down on these online reboots, there was a lot of finger pointing as to the cause.  Negotiations with unions had gone sour.  Prospect Park blamed the unions for not being flexible and unions swore that it was Prospect Park who didn’t want to work things out.  Allegations that Prospect Park had just stopped talking with cast, crew, and unions were plentiful.  There was a lot of he said, she said.  It seemed as though the feat of bringing One Life to Live and All My Children online was more than Prospect Park were equipped to handle.  They just gave up.  Or so we all thought.

I was very surprised when buzz of Prospect Park popped up again.  News broke that Prospect Park had reached an agreement with SAG-AFTRA and the DGA.  They were given an extension until the end of February to get things off the ground.  Executive Producers were announced for both shows.  Vincent Irrizary a.k.a. Dr. David Hayward signed a deal to join All My Children and released the following statement:

"Happy to share that I just signed on with Prospect Park for the All My Children reboot! Excited to bring dastardly Dr. David back to life, as he did for so many others, and to see my dear friends in Pine Valley once again. A great, big thank you to all the fans for your tenacity in keeping the hope alive. You're awesome!!! Let's all keep our fingers crossed together that it becomes a reality.”  (link)

Although only one other actor has been announced, there appears to be a lot of interested former cast member from both shows.  This seems promising yet this time around, I am not quite as optimistic as before.

While I would love to have these shows resurrected, I am still seeing some of the same issues that arose the last go around.  Most notably is the lack of any sort of communication from Prospect Park.  While I can respect that some things probably need to stay under wraps until all is set in stone,  a simple statement from Prospect Park would be appreciated.  

Another thing that really stands out is that as of yet there are no writers attached to the projects and Prospect Park is still trying to workout a deal with WGA. (link)  They can’t have these shows without any writers.

When I asked production company 4th Street Media for their thoughts on the lack of writers it was pointed out that this may not be the biggest obstacle Prospect Park has.  "Not having actors is the biggest challlenge, so many are scattered to the wind. Can't have writers until you know who you're writing for.”

Good point.  The actors are the most important ingredient for these shows.  Without them, it simple won’t work.  This is definitely where things become tricky regarding Prospect Park.

Prospect Park plans to reduce the run time of these shows from a hour to 30 minutes. (link) I imagine this will mean they can run with a smaller cast but what will that cast look like?  Some of these actors have been keeping busy with other projects.  Will we get fractured core families and only half of our favorite super couple?  Will they recast to fill in these gaps?  The right cast and group of characters need to be attached to these projects in order to bring viewers.

Then of course there is the issue of the One Life to Life alum that are currently on General Hospital.  At the beginning of 2012 General Hospital appeared to be on the chopping block but now it is a healthy show that is enjoying increased ratings and positive buzz.  I can’t imagine an actor would want to leave that right now for something that may or may not work out.  But these characters have One Life to Live origins and it is reported that Prospect Park has the option to pull them from General Hospital.  Considering that Prospect Park is the one that is having difficulties getting things working, it seems like a cruel twist of fate.

While the crossovers have had some controversy, they have also had positive feedback and these characters are woven into the canvas now.  It may be messy for General Hospital to remove them.  For example, if Starr leaves not only will the months of building up Starr and Michael’s relationship be down the drain but the only other female that will be left for Michael to date will be his adoptive sister.  As Jamey Giddens with Daytime Confidential stated in his article Report: ABC Give Prospect Park Additional Time to Reboot All My Children and One Life to Live; Will It Be at General Hospital’s Expense?:

"Howarth specifically has become integral to GH's success. The actor and his character test through the roof with focus groups! Here's hoping Vicki Dummer continues to prove she's much smarter than Brian Fronsby not letting this madness happen." (link)

Also what will happen to these characters if the actors who bring them to life chose not to sign with Prospect Park?  Theoretically Prospect Park can recast them.

That’s the thing though...a lot of this is all still theoretical.  Nobody, except possible Prospect Park, knows for sure what the exact plans are for these shows yet.  Any details I can find regarding what kind of licensing agreement they even have with ABC is murky at best.  I think what has me the most uneasy is all the unknowns.

While it may seem like I am being a bit of a "Debbie Downer” here, I do have a hope that this time around Prospect Park can truly save the day and become my hero once again.  The fact that there still seems to be interest from Prospect Park in producing these soaps in itself is actually a good thing.  It means they see soaps as being profitable.  As much as I would love to believe Prospect Park is just doing this out of love for the genre, the fact is they're are in the business to make money.  One of the many causes for the demise of the daytime soap is that it is no longer seen as genre that can bring in money (I disagree).  If Prospect Park is successful then this can change that perception.

With the latest news of the possible resurrection of One Life to Live and General Hospital, I have decided to stay cautiously optimistic for the time being.  If these shows are revived I will be a very happy camper to say the least.  However before I can truly celebrate, I think I need to know what these shows will look like.  For the most part, this means I need to know which actors will be attached to these shows.  In the meantime, I will be patiently waiting for more news.

For more compete information and updates regarding Prospect Park’s plans to reboot One Life to Live and All My Children, I suggest the following publications/resources:  Soap Opera Digest, Daytime Confidential, Soaps Uncensored, and TVSource Magazine. 


  1. Oh I loved reading this. And I agree, I want to be really optimistic about it, but at the same time I am just so confused.

    The only think I can think of is that there must be a whole lot they are not telling us. I would be willing to say that PP has been working on this the moment they said they weren't able to do it. I feel like there is a great deal more behind the scenes that is purposely not being said because of how it all went down last year. I also wouldn't be surprised if PP has been in talks with Carlivati and the GH folks to figure out what could possibly happen with the OLTL characters. I can't see Starr leaving GH right now, but I can see John and Todd eventually being phased out, even though they have brought a whole lot already to the soap. I just feel like Todd and John will need to be a part of OLTL somehow. I even wonder if they make OLTL into a 30 minute show, could PP get Carlivati to help with the writing?

    This could be very exciting. I just wonder how it will all work out. I am glad to see this stuff on the cover of Soap Digest right now. I am looking forward to what developes! Thank you for this post! It was very good.

  2. Thanks, Miss M! I enjoyed the Soap Digest cover article and it is nice to see some many of the actor interested in OLTL 2.0 and AMC 2.0. I would like to see both Starr and Todd stay in GH actually because I’m enjoying their stories on GH right now. It seems John’s story lines keep starting and stoping so honestly he might be better off on OLTL. The actors mentioned in the Soap Digest article were not the ones on GH and I think that shows that PP has a lot of of other actors/characters to choose from. I may put a character “wish list” together for a future blog post:)