and between the lines...
It seemed only fair that I take a look at All My Children. After all, I’ve been watching One Life to Live for several months (yes, I know I swore off daytime soaps when As the World Turns went dark, but as my mother always told me “never say never.”) And when Sara Bibel described Garin Wolf’s debut as General Hospital’s head writer as, “subtly spectacular,” I had a look. While I’m not invested enough in the characters to say that I love it, I don’t hate it, and there’ve been enough solid scenes to keep me watching, at least for now.
So, this past Monday, I decided to give AMC a shot. Without going into all the gory details, let’s just say that I wish that what I had seen on the screen was half as entertaining as what was going on off-screen. Early Saturday morning, the New York Post revealed snippets of the epilogue Susan Lucci wrote for the paperback version of her autobiography, All My Life. Unlike Erika Slezak’s criticism of head of ABC Daytime, Brian Frons’, professional judgment, Lucci’s comments included a personal attack on Frons’ character. She called him, "that fatal combination of ignorance and arrogance," going on to say, that he appeared to be “self-congratulatory” while delivering the news of the cancelation to AMC’s cast. An ABC rep responded, “We have all the respect in the world for Susan, and are sorry she felt the need to write this epilogue to an otherwise incredible career.”
That was Saturday. On Tuesday, Lucci talked with TV Guide’s Michael Logan and revealed that her publisher, HarperCollins, had requested she write the epilogue, and include her “honest and raw reaction to it (AMC’s cancellation).” Now, this is when things began to get interesting. Later on Tuesday, Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva broke the news that Prospect Park had confirmed that four OLTL actors had signed on to continue with the show online. But, that excellent and encouraging news was almost immediately overshadowed by this paragraph in the middle of the story (bold added).
Meanwhile, I hear that, after a two-week deliberation, All My Children star SusanLucci has turned down Prospect Park’s offer to stay on the show. The offer was for a salary identical to what Lucci currently makes at ABC, but I’ve learned that she tried to gouge the producers for more money while also asking to work fewer hours and get a commitment for a primetime series. In light of that development, I hear that Prospect Park may reevaluate its short-term strategy for the two soaps and put its muscle behind the higher-rated OLTL, while moving AMC to the back burner. Prospect Park’s original plan was to re-launch both OLTL and AMC online in the first quarter of 2012. Lucci made headlines over the weekend with a leaked new epilogue to her book All My Life, in which she blasts ABC Daytime president Brian Frons over the series’ cancellation.
Eonline: Susan Lucci Shoots Down All My Children Online Offer.”
Daytime Confidential: BREAKING NEWS: Susan Lucci Nixes Prospect Park's All My Children Offer!
We Love Soaps: REPORT: Susan Lucci Turns Down AMC Offer; Will AMC Continue Online After All?
Sara Bibel at Fancast: ‘One Life to Live’ Stars Move Online, But Lucci Says No To ‘All My Children’
In the actual stories, only Sara Bibel expressed a modicum of skepticism, “Whether this is just a hardball contract negotiation, or Lucci has actually opted out of the on-line show remains to be seen.” But, the fact is all passed this item along as news. Except that when “news” is reported as “I hear” or “I’ve learned,” it’s not news, it is, at best, an unsubstantiated rumor, information not included when the item appeared on other sites. It was left to fans commenting on Daytime Confidential, and other sites, to point out that the diva-like behavior described in the Deadline piece seemed out of character for Lucci, who, in addition to taking several paycuts over the years and expressing interest in continuing with AMC online, is famously loyal to Agnes Nixon and the show that made her a star.
There are a lot of reasons why a journalist – and make no mistake, Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva is a professional journalist – chooses to post or publish a blind item. What’s far more interesting to consider in this case is the possible agenda of the person from whom Andreeva was “hearing” and ”learning,” which is exactly what many fans who commented on the news reports did. Of course, this isn’t the first time a source used a journalist to send a message. Years ago, it happened to me twice, during on-the-record interviews. The interviews were for different articles, but both sources – a consulting producer for Chicago Hope whose name I’ve long-since forgotten and the late Gene Palumbo, former head writer for Guiding Light and General Hospital – said things so outrageous that I blurted out, “you really want to see that in print?” Both did; only later did I realize why.
Since Prospect Park announced the deal in early July, there’s been an online media frenzy. A week after the deal was announced, Michael Logan posted an article titled, “Scoop on the New Web Version of All My Children,” in which he reported, with appropriate skepticism, “Can Prospect Park, the company taking ABC's All My Children and One Life to Live to the internet, possibly be ready to make the move with AMC as soon as September? Hard to believe, but that's what TV Guide Magazine is hearing. Word is, the production company intends to waste no time — or lose any momentum — and will launch the reimagined AMC on Monday, September 26, just three days after the soap ends its network run.”
Not surprisingly, most soap observers shared Logan’s skepticism, and the story never gained traction. Yet, on July 25th, when Prospect Park announced, “We are in the process of working out the essential terms of our proposed collective bargaining agreements with the appropriate guilds and unions, which we must do prior to firming up deals with above- and below-the-line talent,” the headline at NY Times Media Decoder blog read, “Contract Talks May Delay Soap’s Move to the Web.” Brian Stelter went on to report, “’All My Children’ was expected to end its run on ABC on Sept. 23 and start up on an unspecified Web site a few days later.” Yesterday’s announcement that Erika Slezak, Kassie DePaiva, Michael Easton and Ted King will be staying with OLTL when it moves to the web is only the fourth press release Prospect Park has issued since the deal was announced two months ago. And since nature abhors a vacuum, I have no doubt the media feeding frenzy will continue. I hope the online soap media will be a little more circumspect in how they pass along the speculation and rumors.
© 2011 Lynn Liccardo
Limited Licensing: I, Lynn Liccardo, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the Creative Commons Attribution license, granting distribution of my copyrighted work without making changes, with mandatory attribution to Lynn Liccardo and for non-commercial purposes only.
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