Plan to move cancelled ABC soaps to Web looks for union label
Moving television shows from the TV screen to the computer screen is not easy, as the folks who want to give new life to soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" are learning.
Prospect Park, a company headed by former Walt Disney Co. executive Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz, the former head of the talent management company the Firm, made big headlines earlier this month when it announced plans to take the two soaps, which are being cancelled by ABC, and put them on the Web. "All My Children" goes away at the end of summer and "One Life to Live" ends in January.
Details about plans to do this have been scant, and on Monday the company said it is "in the process of working out the essential terms of our proposed collective bargaining agreements with the appropriate guilds and unions," which needs to be done before other plans can go forward.
The company did not elaborate, but producing the two shows for the Internet will mean persuading the unions, including the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, to swallow a lot of cuts. Soaps have large casts and writing staffs and cost as much as $50 million a year to produce. Those are numbers that probably won't work on a show done for the Internet unless Prospect Park can come up with a subcription model or perhaps a secondary window on a cable network.
Besides trying to sign up the cast and crew -- likely for less money -- Prospect Park probably would also have to find new homes to shoot the soaps. ABC is planning on using the New York set of "One Life to Live" for its Katie Couric talk show launching next year.
-- Joe Flint