SPECIAL REPORT: ABC to Make "Major Decisions" About Daytime Lineup in Coming Weeks
Don’t shoot the blogger. Remember all those talk shows ABC started developing last year? There were the two from ABC Media Productions (one a Will & Grace-esque talker with Tori Spelling and Jeff Lewis, the other a cooking show with Danny Boome) and one, a “male View” from Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie. I’m hearing, in the coming weeks, ABC will be deciding if one or more of these projects will land on The Mouse House’s daytime lineup come fall of 2011.
“They have to make a decision by the end of the First Quarter of 2011 in order to get one or more of the shows on the air by fall,” says a source. “Affiliates are getting antsy with Oprah leaving the airwaves with no clear cut successor. The decisions ABC will be making will have ripple effects throughout the ABC Daytime lineup and yes, the soaps will be affected."
As to what exactly all this means for ABC Daytime’s three soap operas, that isn’t so easy to decipher.
“It’s no secret the soaps aren’t as profitable as they once were,” says one industry insider, “and two of the ABC soaps have been over budget in recent years.”
In the fall of 2009, ABC Daytime decided to uproot All My Children and move them to Los Angeles in a cost-cutting effort, however sources tell me the 41-year-old sudser has continued to run over budget since relocating in January of 2010.
“Julie [Hanan Caruthers, All My Children’s executive producer] just can’t seem to bring it in under budget,” says a source.
Reportedly, whereas most of the soaps left on the air have gone to a production model of getting scenes in one take, AMC allegedly still does several takes for each scene and boasts other financial risk factors that concern the powers that be. Meanwhile, ABC’s most popular soap opera, General Hospital has also run into budget woes of late.
GH, which premiered in 1963, reportedly saw its budget slashed significantly recently, resulting in the firing of actress Rebecca Herbst, a move that has since been rescinded. However, sources say more cast cuts are forth coming.
“General Hospital isn’t in any immediate danger,” says a setsider. “It has the strongest brand by far.”
That leaves All My Children and One Life to Live—the latter being the only ABC soap to reportedly come in under budget consistently— for ABC to determine the futures of, and while reps have maintained the shows produced by ABC Media Productions won’t necessarily end up on the ABC channel, numerous sources have confirmed to me that the programs were in fact specifically developed for The Mouse House’s daypart.
Keep checking back with Daytime Confidential as this story develops.