CHEAP CRAP: ABC Daytime’s Replacement Shows to Cost Under $575,000 a Week

File this one under you get what you pay for. TV Guide is reporting The Chew and The Revolution, the two shows set to replace All My Children and One Life to Live respectively, will each cost "$575,000 a week or less" to produce, whereas AMC and OLTL cost between $750,000 to $1 million a week.

The article by Stephen Battaglio goes on to point out that CBS is reportedly making more money on The Talk, despite that show's ratings being lower than As The World Turns. Well of course they are! CBS owns The Talk, just like ABC owns their soaps. ABC will also own the two bargain basement replacement shows, however unlike The Talk, which actually boasts popular, ex-sitcom stars and recognizable faces. Most of us had to Google half the names of the hosts of The Chew and The Revolution.

Comparing the situation at ABC to CBS is apples to licensing fees, which Battaglio pointed out by citing that CBS renewed the Bell soaps at much lesser fees. Well isn't that the whole point of why ABC should have been better prepared for viewer erosion during the daytime? ABC doesn't have to pay licensing fees for AMC and OLTL, and hasn't for many decades. ABC Daytime Chief Brian Frons bragged about this factor when CBS gutted Guiding Light a few years back, so what gives?

 Wouldn't it make more sense to transition AMC and OLTL to a more cost effective business model, as opposed to betting ABC's daytime lineups on two shows that are nowhere near ready for air, and will never inspire even a fraction of the loyalty and viewer engagement of soaps?

I'm sure ABC's response would be "We tried", but I am sorry, choosing to move AMC—which Julie Hanan Caruthers has had way over budget for years, according to sources, while a string of terrible writers creatively bankrupted it—to Los Angeles over OLTL, a soap which Frank Valentini reportedly keeps as much as $1 million under budget and has enjoyed more critical acclaim than any other daytime soap in recent years, was insane.

Can someone explain to my why Hanan Caruthers still has a job? After one so-so season, CBS is firing the showrunner of Blue Bloods, yet JHC has been cashing check after check while tanking a TV icon. No one in the mainstream press is talking about this factor though. Instead we're getting articles about how FarmVille killed soaps. Beats all I've seen and heard.

I sincerely doubt The Chew, a View-clone that will focuse on "all aspects of food" (Really, from the rooter to the tooter, or what?) is going to be even a fraction as entertaining as the template chatfest featuring pissed off women screeching across a table at one another. The View didn't get hot until it got political. What will Mario Batali do to spike ratings,  start a heated discussion about gay rights or Libya while he waits for his canapes to cool?

As for The Revolution, that show is having to be completely retooled, because it sucked donkey balls, according to my sources. Instead of telling Frank Valentini, "Look man, I need you get the budget under $600,000 a week. I know it will be tough, but it is what it is," ABC is going to tear apart a show that is turning out stellar episodes and is Number 3 among women 18-49, for a show that wasn't good enough for the fall? I'm sad about AMC's fate, but what's being done to One Life to Live is flat out criminal.

Let's reflect again on the many, many failed reality/talk projects Brian Frons and Co.attempted to get off the ground at SOAPnet. There was Greg Behrendt's Wake-Up Call, originally developed for ABC's flagship channel, which smartly passed. Southern Belles: Louisville, Holidate, Bank of Mom and Date…need I go on?  If the proof is in the pudding, Jell-O oughta boycott ABC next, because they're fresh out.

I don't care how many ways they try to spin it, I'll never be convinced it makes good business sense to allow Brian Frons to oversee the transition of ABC Daytime away from soaps to programming women are allegedly clamoring for more of. This is the man who was surprised by Kathy Brier's success on One Life to Live because she doesn't look like a Playboy Bunny. Guess what,  neither do most American women. Now Frons wants to micromanage a weight loss reality show? Really?

 We're talking about the guy who put amazing talents like Jackie Zeman, Leslie Charleson, Catherine Hickland and countless other veteran actresses out to pasture fo no other reason than they got older. I have a question for Frons: If actresses' freshness expires at the age of 50, what about executives? What's good for the goose oughta be good for the micromanager. I'd say Frons is well past his sell by date.

This is after all the same bozo who, when asked why he thought All My Children's lesbian storyline was doing better than Grey's Anatomy's a few years back, said to Broadcasting & Cable: "Our lesbians are cuter!"  How can Anne Sweeney, in good conscience, allow a man who ok'd a stripper pole in an OFFICE setting for women executives on All My Children, to decide what women should watch on daytime, whether it's cheaper or not? Someone please tell me we're all being punked.



43 Responses

  1. Profile photo of THEBEST

    I am praying that before the remaining 4 get killed, SOMEBODY has the balls to get at least one of them to cable. If it works, then we could possibly get another cheap cable soap…and another…and another.

  2. Profile photo of Betty

    Even if Frons is gone Anne Sweeny is still the person who really pulled the trigger.

    Rumors are flying that NBC might pick up OLTL and AMC.

    Any truth to that?

  3. Profile photo of keanna

    ABC’s getting exactly what they’re paying for with these cheap replacements, I’ve heard the rumor about NBC picking them up, but I hate to say it I think it’s a pipe dream!!

  4. Profile photo of Soap_Stud

    I cannot see NBC picking up either soap. However, it would be such a nice surprise! OLTL seems to make the most is under budget and has a great writing/producing team..though AMC deserves to stay on the air as well.

    Not one soap fan that I know thinks soaps are less expensive than reality shows/talk shows. This article just gives us an actual number to what we already knew. Loyal soap fans have proven they don’t need lavish sets or location shoots to continue to watching soaps. While we may not like it, we do understand why soaps have opted to let big $$ stars go when they wouldn’t take a pay cut.

    There are other options for ABC than just cancelling AMC and OLTL. Decades ago, soap operas were 30 minutes, had a much smaller cast and not nearly the amount of the sets, and fans tuned in. I urge ABC to get back to the basics and continue to tell the stories of the AMC and OLTL families.

  5. Profile photo of met

    this whole article reads like the five stages of grief.
    first come denial, then come anger, then come bargaining, then comes depression and acceptance.
    and it was mostly stuck on anger.

  6. Profile photo of Outspoken

    I just don’t get why they didn’t give OLTL a trial year to see if things pick up. They could have easily moved the show to an after evening news time-slot and reduced its airtime down to an 1/2 hour four times a week. There were so many options, I guess I have to say it… Jamey, we are being punked!

  7. Profile photo of lfad

    Still not feeling the OLTL love. Are people so desperate for any sort of halfway decent soap that they praise something totally mediocre. I watched the Soapnet marathon, and yep, still don’t care about it, though the lack of Todd was nice.

    The new reality shows sound horrible.

  8. Profile photo of PortOfChuck

    How could NBC pick them up? They’re owned by ABC and aren’t going to be shopped around to other networks. I can’t imagine ABC would say “oh sure you can have our soaps so they can compete with the new crap we’re putting on.”

  9. Profile photo of appleridge

    But I Dont See ABC Selling Em Cause If They Do & They Are Successful, ABC will Look More the idiots for canning them in the first place and they dont want to look worse than they do now.

  10. Profile photo of thecourt99

    @met…damn right there is a lot of anger. These shows have been in existence for years and TPTB are lying and getting rewarded for it by the industry that is supposed to check them on these things (media).

    Brass tacks…
    – OLTL always made budget. If that were an issue, Frons could have cut their budget and based upon history, the show would have done it.
    – AMC was always over budget…they could have fired JHC and hired someone that could manage a budget.
    – TV lives and dies by ratings, at the same time acknowledging that the ratings system is outdated. Someone could be set for life if they created an alternative to Nielsen. Before the decision to cut was made, they could have easily done some research to really count the viewership. Decisions are made by data, and when decisions are made on unreliable data, there is always room to negotiate.
    – Frons has made many silly public statements for which he should be fired, and it should make one ask…how can he do programming targeted at women given his statements.

    People are mad as hell, but it doesn’t remove the validity of our arguments. There are many things that aren’t being addressed or discussed and they should be. Meanwhile, mainstream media is using a tag line that is incorrect by all accounts and dismissing millions of viewers. Its hard to force change when people don’t understand or appreciate the reality of the situation. If they just don’t want to be in the soap business…they can just say it. But they would rather blame the viewers. If the viewers respond to that, the execs have no one to blame but themselves.

  11. Profile photo of alstonboy4315

    Oh well…….

    Nobody ever said that crap wasn’t cheap!!!!

    I don’t care if it costs them $2 and the price of beer to make these shows. I won’t be watching—-not even out of curiosity!!!

  12. Profile photo of Mario500

    The title of this article reflects some of its unnecessarily rude content. I had to force myself to continue reading the interesting details between the rude words expressed by the writer. No one should be forced to read such vile language when they are most interested in details they may not know.

    If I had written such a article, my friends and relatives would be disappointed and surprised in what I had become as an adult. Please change your ways for the sake of a pleasant society. There is no time to be rude and reliant on speech enhancers. We are alive for a certain period of time and we must use our lives wisely to make ourselves, other living things, and our world or worlds better.

  13. Profile photo of SoapActor

    AMC and OLTL, everything is going to be just fine..
    there will be changes Im sure …. but they are NOT cancelled!

  14. Profile photo of fmhall18

    If NBC Universal buys the rights of AMC and OLTL, it will be for the purpose of airing the reruns and not to restart production. That would actually be a smart move on NBC Universal. They have many cable networks that fit into AMC and OLTL’s audience. Also with the Comcast merger, they have even more. They will gain an audience and make money off of the reruns.

    It’s funny that older soaps like Capitol and Santa Barbara are still on the air overseas and do well, but the cable networks are unwilling to reair them in the US. Even Passions is being rerun in Canada. They used to do it in the 80s and 90s, why not now?

  15. Profile photo of SoapActor

    hi guys
    Im an actor yes, not on soaps, want to be .. so watching shows deflate is heart wrenching just as the fans see the shows deflate.. but why would NBC buy the shows to just run re-runs, that means the actors and crews would still be out of work, and the “fans” would see old shows.. so you are saying there is not a possibility for the shows to go on producing with NBC or another network … I mean OPRAH spelled it out , but she is not the end all to be all .. RIGHT ?

  16. Profile photo of SoapActor

    Furthermore after tomorrow’s rally/protest
    I have a sneaky feeling ABC will reconsider and
    keep the ABC soaps, but with some changes… they are prob. going to cut each show to a 1/2 hour, or… they may cancel just one , that being AMC, cause ONE LIFE is the best show on air today , and never ever receives accolades as it should… In the past ONE LIFE really did some far fetch stuff, but they have really cleaned up their act…Anyones thoughts? Do you think the two shows will get a stay , or this is the end?

  17. Profile photo of ckg927

    SA: The question is…when, exactly?

    Disney Jr. isn’t exactly getting off to the best start…when you have to wait a few months because all your ducks aren’t in a row, you’ve got problems!

  18. Profile photo of SoapActor

    Yeah I know , its sad to say , but as Michael Logan has stated, Oprah has stated, I think soaps are going to be coming to a halt, the recession also created a mess too, it affects everything ….and its tough , and I also agree with the writing has gone to pot, with the exception of ONE LIFE, though the whole TESS is a mess … lol! Anyways, who knows what the outcome will be, welcome to hear anyones thoughts on that … Maybe Betty White can save the soaps, as her longetity has proven stellar, and she was on B&B maybe she can save them and speak out .. Alot of actors are not really talking about it , and its understandbly so, cause they want to keep their jobs, but I also think people should approach this in a professional way and not a tirade… cause ABC probably is not going to know what hit them tomorrow, or it could very well backfire on the fans….

  19. Profile photo of caitlinp

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to transition AMC and OLTL to a more cost effective business model, as opposed to betting ABC’s daytime lineups on two shows that are nowhere near ready for air, and will never inspire even a fraction of the loyalty and viewer engagement of soaps?

    A few years back there was talk about how soaps would need to change with their economic situation, and people being less willing to watch a daily soap. Most seemed to agree that soaps would need to stop airing every day, as well as start airing just 13-24 weeks a year. But, I also remember most people agreeing that very few soaps could truly make this transition. Many AMC and OLTL fans don’t want to see their shows canceled, but few would be willing to having them reduced to just 13 to 36 episodes per year. And even if this did happen, all of the current soaps would still face the huge problem of attracting viewers aged 18-49.

    A new model needs to happen, and it probably will happen, but I doubt it’s going to be with any of the remaining soaps. Maybe there’s a longshot of the Bell’s trying to do it with their shows, but I think that CBS or whatever channel the find to air the shows will make them take on the bulk of the risk involved.

  20. Profile photo of liason4real

    Why not run The Chew and Revolution on Soapnet since it’s obviously not going anywhere in the next few years?

    OLTL could probably find cheaper real estate away from their current location.

    You would think Frons and company would have begun planning how to lower the cost of the ABC soaps when he canceled Port Charles eight years ago.

  21. Profile photo of caitlinp

    [quote=soapfan502]SOAPnet should pick up All My Children and One Life To Live[/quote]

    SoapNet doesn’t have enough money to produce either show.

    - OLTL always made budget. If that were an issue, Frons could have cut their budget and based upon history, the show would have done it.

    A show being on or under budget is not the same as a show making the network a profit, or making enough for the network to continue producing it. A few years ago a lot of major advertisers pulled out of advertising on soaps. This is why CBS didn’t waste anymore time in cancelling GL and ATWT. Soaps are very expensive, and at some point there is just no easy way to cover for advertisers who aren’t going to pay a lot for shows that can’t ever draw 1 million viewers who are between 18-49 years of age.

  22. Profile photo of charleyhorse

    No chance NBC will pick these shows up. As far as the money is concerned, the plain truth is that it IS possible to have produced AMC and OLTL for the same money or less that these replacement shows but ABC management didn’t have the brains to hire the right people to do so. And let’s not forget that the smartly-produced shows were (and are) capable of churning out not 5 episodes a week, but 7 episodes per week so re-do the math on that and you will see that even at $750,000 a week, a week of soaps is CHEAPER than a week of these two replacement shows. The loss of the soaps is a loss of interest in the genre itself by the people charged with maintaining them and the lack of vision on behalf of the top brass at the networks to figure out a way to make them more profitable. There are simply no longer executives in power who are committed to the genre. After all, you could literally produce scripted drama in a set made of black curtains and fog and make it cost almost nothing or you can let people like Julie Carruthers run amok with the budget and have everyone running around in a panic – which is what happened here. Somewhere between black curtains and blatantly irresponsible producing was the solution, but no one went there.

  23. Profile photo of Mario500

    [quote]Mario, maybe you should go work for Brian Frons. Oops that assumes that you don’t already.[/quote]

    I don’t understand this suggestion and I would never consider it.

    [quote]Mario-I see you joined this forum today, do us all a favor and beat it.[/quote]

    This is simply wrong. Never treat new folks this way.

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