What Exactly Does ABC’s Reality Version of General Hospital Mean For The 50-Year-Old Scripted Series?

A New York Post item concerning the Mouse House's move to create an unscripted version of General Hospital has soap fans riled up as we head into December. According to the article, ABC is filming a pilot for a reality version of GH at UCLA Medical Center. The question is, what would this proposed series mean for the future of the original GH? Likely nothing, according to my sources.

"I don't think GH has anything to fear from this show," says one insider. "ABC is still reeling from how cancelling the other soaps [All My Children and One Life to Live] negatively impacted the ABC Daytime brand. If anything, this new series would be viewed as a companion piece, not a replacement."

So where would ABC put "The Real General Hospital", should the series receive a greenlight? According to the Post, the project could be syndicated or farmed out to one of Disney's cable channels.

"ABC is pleased with the ratings for GH right now, and they're paying attention to the positive buzz the show is generating," reveals a network mole. "I sincerely doubt they'd wanna mess with that anytime soon. I'd suspect the producers of The Chew have more to worry about at this point."

Does this mean GH, which turns 50 on April 1, 2013, is safe?  

"Look, the economics for producing a daily soap opera haven't changed," begins one source. "However, ABC has had some revelations about the viability of soaps as a brand of late."

Perhaps this is why, according to several sources, ABC offered to buy back the rights to All My Children and One Life to Live from licensor Prospect Park several times over the past calendar year. In fact, an 11th hour move by Prospect Park to extend their rights to the two series was reportedly turned down by the Mouse House.

"There's been a lot of brainstorming about bringing those soaps back in some form or fashion; whether it would be as a limited-run summer series, or something for ABC Family," reveals a veteran TV professional. "If a new model that makes sense financially can be achieved, ABC might not be out of the soap game just yet." 

Photo credit: ABC

24 Responses

  1. Profile photo of MadDogLane

    Oh boy this is going to stir the pot big time for the cray cray’s. These soaps are dead and gone and are never going to return. I really wish people would stop getting other’s hopes up

  2. Profile photo of brettyboy

    I feel better after reading this article, I emailed DC about it because it worried me that it may end GH. I have no intentions of getting my hopes up about a return for AMC or OLTL but it’s interesting that they want to retain the rights.

  3. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    [quote=MadDogLane]Oh boy this is going to stir the pot big time for the cray cray’s. These soaps are dead and gone and are never going to return. I really wish people would stop getting other’s hopes up[/quote]

    Exactly! :-(

  4. Profile photo of ANGELWENDY15

    I pray GH survives after it’s 50th anniversary in April. The show has improved so much the last few months. It may not be perfect but are any of the soaps? I’m loving seeing my old favorites like Scorpio, Anna,Duke, Faison, and the Quartermains, Skye, Ned, and Lucy Choe, who will soon be on.I have no interest in another reality show. I wish they would stop trying to come up with some new idea. Look how many years the soaps were on TV, because they had a LOYAL audience. No one is going to have the same loyal following to a new talk, game or reality show. When will they learn?

  5. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    As excellent as GH is right now, it’s kind of a double-edged sword. If the show is at its absolute best, and it STILL can’t bring in the numbers to keep advertisers interested, that tells the network that nothing is going to help. It’s nice to see incremental increases on some weeks, but is it enough? That’s the BIG cliffhanger.

  6. Profile photo of thecourt99

    Why are they even talking about the possibility of bringing OLTL or AMC back? I mean, if anything, the lesson learned here is that ITS THE WRITING STUPID!!! So they can only stretch Cartini so far. Who will they hire to helm OLTL and AMC to get the same results that they have with GH right now?

  7. Profile photo of SavePortChuck

    Relax! ABC is not going to cancel daytime’s number ONE show in the all-any-advertiser-cares-about category of woman 18-34. It’s been number ONE like 6 times out of the past 7 weeks. #1 people!!! Numero Uno! Comprende??

    They’re probably getting this reality show ready to replace Katie. She’ll be jumping over to CNN sooner rather than later now that Jeff Zucker is over there. ABC is hemorrhaging more cash over this turd of a show than they did with any of their soaps!

  8. Profile photo of soapbaby

    @SavePortChuck: Y&R is daytime’s number #1 soap. A dramatic increase in overall ratings and success in the 18-34 demographic did not save OLTL from cancellation. I hate sound pessimistic but I feel ABC Daytime wants out of soaps and is biding it’s time until a.) they can identify a successful replacement and/or b.) GH celebrates it’s 50th anniversary.

  9. Profile photo of spixiefan721

    This makes me feel a LITTLE better.. but the fact that ABC still isn’t really promoting GH makes me think they are chomping at the bit to cancel GH. They need to promote it during primeime to draw back old viewers and also bring in brand new viewers. Idealy, they should create special promo’s for people who don’t watch GH, to introduce the to characters that would appeal most to a primetime audience.. that is what I would do. If Judge Judy is getting 12 million (or something like that ) viewers… there are alot of potential viewers for GH out there who aren’t watching. ABC needs to bring them in!!!

  10. Profile photo of SavePortChuck

    @soapbaby: I know Y&R is the number one soap. I didn’t say anything to contradict that fact. I SAID… GH is number one in the only category advertisers care about. Y&R skews to a much older audience that advertisers don’t give a damn about. Besides Y&R’s ratings are plunging under this new creative team. Story lines may not be as ridiculous as they were with MAB, but dear God the show is a gigantic BORE! Oh yippee, let’s watch Avery cook something!!!

  11. Profile photo of susanmz

    Realty GH sounds about as dumb as it gets, but I am heartened to hear that people at ABC may be rethinking the bad decisions they made concerning AMC and OLTL.

  12. Profile photo of THEBEST

    I’m not getting my hopes up, but I guarantee you that Frank Valentini could write up a dirt cheap business plan at how to do OLTL & AMC at least 30-40% cheaper than they were costing before to produce. I’m sure GH is WAY under budget. Look how he’s been doing it over there. Anders Hove (Faison) filmed 7 episodes in 2 days. Kassie DePaiva (Blair) filmed 4 episodes in 1 day. You get Lorraine Broderick for AMC & Sri Rao for OLTL as writers. Frank could helm all 3 with Ed Scott & Lisa de Cazotte as day-to-day EPs. 10-15 contract players while fan faves guest star & rotate in & out on recurring like at GH. But, that’s too much like right. I wish it would come to fruition.

  13. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    Susan Lucci says she did four AMC shows the day they were told it was cancelled, so I don’t think that matters much to the bottom line, as things stand these days.

  14. Profile photo of nmelman

    They are not dead and the numbers speak for themselves. I could care less what you think or say. I love them and so do millions of other people. Just mind your own business if you don’t like them. Have you heard of arithmetic?

  15. Profile photo of jocy923

    When another station switched to game shows, the advertisers complained and said they wanted the soaps back! I think it might have been CBS.

    Advertisers love soaps; the 18-49 year-old crowd watches them. GH has been the #1 show for ABC in that demographic, and ABC has been #1 in daytime for a lot of weeks.

    Soaps will never be as cheap as reality shows, and daytime reality shows thus far have not brought in that demographic or the advertisers that soaps have. Everyone always says the networks don’t care if the reality shows don’t garner the ratings, but if they get ratings like The Revolution, it’s a disaster. They have to get SOME ratings so advertisers will sponsor the show. ABC really shot itself in the foot and the powers that be know it.

    Also, the networks go to the big affiliate meetings and if your local stations don’t want a replacement show, that’s it. If people want General Hospital to stay on, they have to tell their local stations that they won’t watch what replaces it. Many affiliates did not take ABC/Disney’s new network, Disney Jr., so SOAPnet is still on the air in many places. The affiliates have a lot of power.

  16. Profile photo of THEBEST

    Actors doing 4 episodes worth of scenes in a day does save money, especially when they’re not on contract. If you do 7 episodes in 2 days on recurring, you’re not entitled to an episode guarantee. You will be paid for the 2 days you worked versus the 7 episodes your scenes will air in. How do you think that GH was able to afford James Franco? He filmed for 3 days and we suffered through Robert Frank for 6 weeks the first time around.

  17. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    Anyway, James Franco probably cost GH next to nothing. He approached them to play Franco as part of his “performance art” experience, so he probably took scale, or whatever the lowest rate was the union would allow.

  18. Profile photo of Transfigurationjc

    After reading the comments here it obvious that fans are still naive avbout the business aspect of TV. These shows have to have numbers that attract advertisers. a few million loyal viewers may not be enough.
    GH is a show that got 17 million viewers in the early 80s. Even after they lost the number one spot to YR in 1988 they still mainfained 8 or so million.
    Through most of the early 90s they continued to keep ratings of at least 7 million. But now they celebrate ratings near 3 million. That has to be discouraging to advertisers. Also production cost must be rwice what they were before. Bottomline is that like it or not viewership for all soaps has declined over time on network tv. Networks have to respond to that fact to keep their business solvent.

  19. Profile photo of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    [quote=nmelman]It’s too bad that you have no idea of arithmetic. The numbers speak for themselves. Daytime drama is not dead.[/quote]

    If you’re going to be insulting, you should at least provide some evidence to back up what you claim. We all wish things were better, but wishing doesn’t make it so.

  20. Profile photo of jocy923

    Advertisers like advertising on soaps that get the demographics they’re looking for. All network ratings, including those of soap operas’, have gone down because of a variety of things, including more cable networks, more distractions like the Internet, more households where women work. It’s stupid to just say soaps are dead. If soaps were dead, we wouldn’t have so many nighttime soaps. Soaps are expensive, and the networks decided to cut costs by getting rid of them. They have found in some instances the ratings the cheaper shows have gotten haven’t attracted advertisers.

    No question GH is operating much more cheaply, or there wouldn’t be the budget to bring back the Nurses’ Ball. The whole reason that was cut was because of the expense and having to pay everyone overtime.

    A few million viewers in daytime is FINE these days, for any show. Standards have changed. Go to any nighttime “series finale” – from MASH to DALLAS to FRIENDS and see how the ratings have gone down over the years.

  21. Profile photo of cassie67

    Nothing!;( The representatives of ABC-Disney need to realize that creating a new scripted reality-TV series for a daytime lineup is NOT going to work! Obviously, soap fans want soap operas in that lineup, and that’s all they want, and so do I.

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