April 14, 2011, a date that will forever be etched into minds of One Life to Live and All My Children fans was the day ABC announced the cancellation of both soaps; All My Children went off the air this past September, and One Life to Live, which was slated to “sunset”, as the press release so poetically referred to it, as though that would take the sting out of it, on January 20, 2012.
The reason given was because research showed viewers no longer had time to sit for an hour for fiction, but wanted informational shows instead. The truth was ABC/Disney, wanted out of the soap business and wanted shows that would cost a fraction to produce than the more expensive soaps, with loyal fan bases, both for well over 40 years. But they said that according to Nielsen ratings (an antiquated and useless ticking process since the advent of the VCR) there was no audience for the soaps.
I already stated in a previous blog this week that I was absent for 33 days in my senior year in high school and thankfully for the VCR, I was able to go out into the workforce and keep up with the story. I eventually even started packing the essential items (blank tapes, wires to make necessary connections on hotel room televisions equipt with VCR’s) when on vacations, so I wouldn’t have to wait a week or however long to get back home to play catch up.
Within seconds of the announcement, which I happened to see as a post on Facebook by a one time Facebook friend, groups were assembled and fans mobilized sending emails of protest to network powers that be, local ABC affiliates, advertisers. A few days after the protests began, Hoover (Vacuum cleaners) Vice-president of marketing, Brian Kirkendall, announced it was pulling its ads from ABC daytime in their alliance with the fans. Finally, we were being heard. The battle raged on through the summer and commercials were beginning to be pop up for All My Children’s replacement, that hour-long talk/cooking show (I’ve never seen it, and will never watch it) helmed by some fat red-headed blowhard in orange Crocs who, when interviewed about the new show amid the objections by outraged soap fans, replied with “Get over it.” That quote came on the heels of the one made by Brian Frons, ABC/Disney Daytime President about the forthcoming shows that the viewers needed to be trained like dogs to accept his vision of the shows. That’s a lovely sentiment from an alleged family-oriented network to legions of loyal long-time fans of nearly half a century. No audience indeed. They why all the “squawking” all over Facebook and other media outlets, calling the decision nothing less than boneheaded.
On July 7, 2011, a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel appeared. Production company, Prospect Park announced it would be leasing both All My Children and One Life to Live from ABC/D and presenting them in a new format…online. While we were concerned that many older viewers may not have access to a computer or other smart device, they’d be left out in the cold, but soon it was announced that plans were also in the works to bring the shows to a cable television channel and the soap groups’ hunt was on to find the shows a new home, emailing everyone and everyone to please Save Our Soaps. Unfortunately, it was reported that plans for All My Children fell through, citing Susan Lucci as the blame for holding out for more money and less working hours. But over at One Life to Live, 13 actors, including Erika Slezak who was among the first (see?, our heroine!) signed on to continue with Prospect Park and tied up storylines were ordered to be rewritten as cliffhangers to carry through until OLTL.2 made it’s online debut. Prospect Park was even leasing the studio that housed all the soap’s sets.
On November 18, 2011, One Life to Live taped its final episode for ABC which curiously morphed into January 13, a week shy of the original end date. Among those episodes was an homage from One Life to Live to its fans showcasing the efforts in trying to save the show by canceling their soap within a soap, Fraternity Row and having its loyal viewers pull out all the stops in protest. It would be a touching and serio-comic thank you note to us.
Happy Holidays. On November 23, 2011, one day before Thanksgiving, Prospect Park suspended all its efforts in keeping One Life to Live going. Now, not only are we losing our show for the second time, but that neat little “sunset” ending that might have been, will now most likely keep us all hanging. Add to that the fact that we also got shortchanged by a week.
A real fine thank you to loyal fans, like myself, for the years we’ve invested in watching these iconic shows.