SOURCE: "Jeff Kwatinetz Wants The New All My Children and One Life to Live to be Edgy"


It's starting to shape up that the casting breakdown I was leaked for the characters of Matthew and Destiny on One Life to Live—which finds Des looking for a Sugar Daddy online—could in fact be a glimpse into the kind of storytelling we will be seeing on the new versions of OLTL and All My Children. According to sources, Prospect Park principle Jeff Kwatinetz wants his soaps to do edgy, ripped-from-the-headlines story arcs.

"Jeff wants controversy for these shows," explains an insider. "He doesn't want the same old return-from-the-dead storylines and things of that nature. He wants the characters dealing with shocking, provocative issues being written about in the newspapers and talked about on the nightly news."

"Sugar Babies", coed girls who spend time with older men in exchange for money, have been a hot topic in the news of late. ABC's 20/20 has been covering the topic for some time and an MIT graduate's website recently posted a Top 20 list of colleges and universities where Sugar Babies could be found in 2011.

"Relaunching One Life to Live with a beloved teen character going the Sugar Baby route will provide just the kind of controversy Jeff is looking for," says a mole.

While it's definitely hard to imagine sweet, sassy Des in such a gamey story arc (Maybe that's why they're reportedly looking for an older actress for the part baby-faced Shenell Edmonds originated?), the original One Life to Live told plenty of controversial tales. Creator Agnes Nixon launched the sudser in the turbulent, racially-charged late 60's with a saga about a light-skinned black woman passing for white — while dating both a black man and a white one. Two years later, Nixon's All My Children began with a character staunchly opposed to the Vietnam War.



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OLTL has a strong multi-decade legacy of socioeconomic diversity and long term related "edginess" in successfully addressing controversial issues, including among other things, the onset of the Nation's tragic AIDS crisis and its treatment; teenage pregnancy; gang rape; mental illness a la Multiple Personality Disorder; homophobia, gay coming out and LGBT relationship issues; and, alcoholism and drug addiction and dependency issues. "Edginess" is nothing new to Llanview, Pennsylvania, and the fan base will more than tolerate, if not embrace such, depending on the level of realism and maturity of its treatment by the scribes. What it seemingly will not tolerate or embrace for long, it seems to me, is stupidity should it arise, or a cavalier disregard for the show's history, its characters, and their legacy.

There are some formerly employed OLTL writers who can powerfully attest to such, and Ms. Slezak is prominently mentioned in the literature, regarding a case involving one such writer. The boss wants edginess, ok, but wager this too, protesting ladies too much. That he the boss - does not want a rank over the cliff, jumping the shark, negation of storied personality and history - to the radical extent that it results in alienating the nationwide longtime, multiple millions of viewing core OLTL fan base, adversely affecting the show's support, profitability and longtime viability at a time when it hopes to capitalize on that core fan base with a view to increasing its market share.

Moreover, the instant undertaking however laudable and it is highly so, is nevertheless replete with complications enough already, one need not pile onto the list: (1) economic, pay-to-view, particularly given the constraints of a viewer paid medium a la Hulu Plus with a much smaller viewership at present than the traditional networks, (2) requiring some technological hurdles for viewers watching to initially surmount [i.e., as in purchasing and connecting a new cable from a computer to a tv set?], (3) at a time when the Nation's wages are flat, following the Great Recession, and (4) when Prospect Park's The Online Network is ambitiously trying to revitalize shows that were cancelled under the most ominous and trying and alienating circumstances to the actors, crews, and fan base.

The Evans family was/is a loving, nurturing, and strong family unit - notwithstanding its shortcomings as all families have. And "Destiny," portrayed by the fine young actress, Shenell Edmonds, is a recent NAACP Image Award nominee - whose character, however challenged it was -- now seems "destined" or rather debased into becoming an Internet hooker - for edginess story's sake? How American can you get folks, you say? Really? Doesn't this wholesale undermine the loving family structure that Nora aka Mrs. Bo Buchanan and the good Mrs. Evans worked so hard in building for Destiny and her future, and for her baby's future? Why Nora and Bo were happily ready to pay her college tuition and care for all the needs of their grandchild. Doesn't it currently undermine, if not entirely obliterate, the ever loving strength of the strong sibling bond - that powerfully existed between Destiny and her beloved brother, "Sean", as also warmly portrayed by the also talented fine actor, Sean Ringgold? Another dysfunctional African American family experience mainstream - America needs? The canvass of characters have serious longstanding - contextual history; they are not, in that sense, a blank slate or a block of molding clay.

Soap fans are so invested in their show's characters, yes indeed, so Viki lovingly told us at OLTL's closing a la Fraternity Row. But hey, go right ahead and ignore the core fan base - at your peril. ABC/D did for the past year and a half or so, and look at what that got them. For edginess? Really, you say? Thank Madame Delphina and Luna Moody's Soaps Goddess for an eraser...

Dr. Donald G. Boudreau
author, American Business and Daytime Dramas

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I agree Trey_. I am fearful that we'll get a Nafessa Williams redux.

Who is handling casting duties at the new soaps?

Part of me wishes that they would go with Shenell Edmonds. If you want edgy that would be edgy because she looks so innocent. It would be shocking.

Daniel St. John's picture
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I am all for edgy realism but not if it comes at the expense of logical storytelling. Case in point, this "Sugar Baby" storyline would work fine with a character like Rama but not with Destiny. Destiny comes from a supportive family, has a close relationship with her child's über wealthy family and is not nearly as free-spirited a character as she would need to be to turn to having relations with men for money.

TV Gord's picture
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I've been waiting to read an opinion that comes close to mine, and Daniel St. John has done it, exactly. Thanks.

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This sounds great - make it good and trashy, and perhaps people will tune in. It's on the internet, so they can make it a little bit dirty, too. Some other possible stories: Viki Buchanan, about to lose Llanfair, decides to make extra money by going into the phone sex business, unbeknownst to her family. Or perhaps Nora inherits a strip club, and decides to make a go of it.

pjc722's picture
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I definitely think for both of these shows to be successsful they will have to be edgy and different for more than just the DIEHARD fans to catch it.

But I also think that they both have to be a different edgy. I mean, if both shows tackle social issues that what's the difference between them. I am not saying it's the answer but OLTL should be the thinking woman's edgy while AMC should be the over the top edgy so that, if they get her, Erica can be the most OVER THE TOP she has ever been to date!

But if one tackles "sugar babies" and the other tackles prostitution, etc. than why spend two hours watching either when the other will eventually get there.

Think ONE a new DALLAS version and the other a new REVENGE version.

That's my take

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they need to bring oltl's premise of dealing w/ racial and gender and cultural issues back to this reboot. Addressing racial and gender and class differences can be a way to create storylines organically while still remaining edgy. they don't need cheap shock value techniques. leave that to reality tv shows. new ideas and perspectives can make any show and character more unique. Not all storylines have to be about race. But fictional characters' lives are touched by their racial identities.

there's good edgy and then there's edginess w/c is really only being offensive for the sake of shocking people like how "ally mcbeal" was being "edgy" w/ how they portrayed chinese american character ling who was a dragon lady and hypersexualized only when paired w/ a white male char. the char was all these harmful stereotypes. but it launched lucy liu's career bec she was really popular w/ the audience. the char really did more harm than good. edgy can definitely be repelling if edginess is used to mock racial minorities.

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Doesn't sound good.

Soaps do not need to be reality-based. The point of soaps is to escape reality.