Could AFTRA be Doing More to Keep the Soap Opera Genre Alive?




Deadline Hollywood’s Nikki Finke has put the American Federation of Television and Rado Artists (AFTRA) on blast in a scathing new blog post detailing what Finke says the union is failing to do for its members. Here’s what she has to say about AFTRA in regards to recent daytime soap opera turmoil.

"..It’s not doing anything publicly to oppose the shuttering, relocating, or future shortening of daytime dramas whose actors and crews make up an important part of AFTRA membership. Unfortunately, AFTRA has claimed exclusive jurisdiction over soap opera actors, which is why the Guild’s inactivity on these matters is so bewildering. The final episode of TV’s longest running scripted series Guiding Light will be shown on CBS September 18th after 72 years on the air. Nor has AFTRA spoken about efforts to find another home for Procter & Gamble’s Guiding Light, despite such a rich history on radio and then TV and such loyal fans. AFTRA also remained inactive this past week when ABC Entertainment, after multiple denials, finally announced that All My Children is moving from NY to LA which will idloscate many actors and other workers on the show. Meanwhile, ABC also  is denying rumors that, if it adds The Aisha Tyler Show (already okayed for a pilot) to its daytime line-up, the network may trim two of its daytime soaps to a half-hour each. AFTRA has provided no public updates on any of these soap developments."

In 2008 cast members from CBS Daytime’s The Bold and the Beautiful, headed by leading lady Susan Flannery, seriously considered seeking out a new collective bargaining agent. As for the rumors that ABC may cut two soaps to a half hour to accomodate Aisha Tyler’s piloted talker, multiple sources tell Daytime Confidential Tyler’s vehicle is currently stuck in "development hell" as the comedienne reportedly isn’t testing well with the target demographic ABC was hoping to attract for the show.

11 Responses

  1. Profile photo of josser
    josser

    Finke does bring up good points. Most unions fight for their members. Autoworkers’ Union, teachers’ unions, etc. all seem to fight to make deals to keep jobs or fight against unreasonable employer actions. Why isn’t AFTRA doing anything to save soaps?

  2. Profile photo of appleridge
    appleridge

    I have said AFTRA needs to look into this AMC move. I dunno seems fishy to me but I Can’t explain why.

    I hope AFTRA can do something about the Daytime Dramas because i dont want them all to die. What Could AFTRA Do To Help This from happening?

  3. Profile photo of siomonstuart2003
    siomonstuart2003

    HEy, frons, why not invest in this industry by doing everything you can to put the soaps on Soapnet when the networks take them off? Do say that they are expensive to produce when it is true, but lets look at alternative options to air the soaps and make them less expensive to produce. We, the fans, want good stories.

  4. Profile photo of Scott Novick
    Scott Novick

    I’ve never worked in any unionized job role, so here’s my question: can unions like AFTRA govern decisions outside the scope of acting like whether a show stays on the air, or where it’s produced?

    I thought – and correct me if I’m wrong – that the union governs the working conditions for the workers in the union, e.g. what they get paid, benefits, working conditions. But if Telenext/P&G decides to shut down GL completely because CBS dropped it and no one else picked it up, or if ABC decides, like many businesses do these days, to pick up AMC and move it to L.A., what can AFTRA do other than say it’s unfair to their members? Or is that speaking out part what Finke is saying should happen but isn’t?

  5. Profile photo of elvara
    elvara

    Where has she been all these months? I find it interesting that NOW people are worried for soaps. What exactly is Nikki Finke suggesting AFTRA do? I don’t think there are many options. I’m not sure it’s all sincere on her part. NF has always been very anti-AFTRA. Maybe it’s just another excuse to bash them. I doubt SAG would do differently.

  6. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    AFTRA could have definitely had something to say about GL actors changing for their scenes in cars. That had to be breaking all kinds of rules, not to mention a few indecency laws. From what Maureen Garrett said to Mimi Torchin for The Soapgeist, the actors there are heralded about like cattle. AFTRA could also insist upon a meeting with Brian Frons to discuss the particulars of AMC moving to LA. Giving actors a week to decide? I could definitely see where that could run afoul of union contracts.  That being said, I haven’t seen their contract, but I think AFTRA definitely has pause for concern.

  7. Profile photo of taa2
    taa2

    AFTRA could do what the UAW and United Steelworkers have done time and time again: make a deal with producers to reduce costs like salaries, benefits and working conditions. The could also call for other unions to come together to do the same. Who knows? Had these things been done, Guiding Light might be planning for 2010 storylines.

  8. Profile photo of Scott Novick
    Scott Novick

    AFTRA could have definitely had something to say about GL actors changing for their scenes in cars… AFTRA could also insist upon a meeting with Brian Frons to discuss the particulars of AMC
    moving to LA…

    Those are good points about what AFTRA can do in reaction to the events, Jamey. And they SHOULD do those things, since that’s why AFTRA exists. But would AFTRA sticking up for their members actively oppose the cancellation of GL or the AMC move? Unless I’m reading her wrong, Finke seems to be saying AFTRA should stand up to P&G or ABC to keep these things from happening, and I don’t see how the union can do that.

  9. Profile photo of Scott Novick
    Scott Novick

    AFTRA could do what the UAW and United Steelworkers have done time and time again: make a deal with producers to reduce costs like salaries, benefits and working conditions. The could also call for other unions to come together to do the same.

    GL has already been cutting costs left and right for some time, including their move to a controversial “production model” using handheld cameras and location shoots in Peapack, NJ that would not require set building costs. Actors have been let go, cut to recurring or asked to take pay cuts. and all those cost cutting measures led to the substandard work conditions like the ones Jamey described. How much more of a cut could the unions generate when the show was already bleeding?

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