The company that, along with late former radio actress-turned-writer Irna Phillips, invented the genre is ready to call time of death on the traditional daytime soap opera. In an interview with Cincinnati.com, Procter and Gamble's Global Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard is finally admitting what many of us in the online soap journalism community have been saying for years— P&G is done with daytime dramas.
While moving into movies, the Cincinnati-based consumer giant also is listening to pitches for new TV projects, including miniseries. But the company which invented the "soap opera" in 1933 is not looking for new daytime dramas.
"I think they've run their course," he says.
The interview, which serves to promote P&G and Walmart's collaborative attempt to revive the long-dead, network TV-movie with Friday night's Secrets of the Mountain (airing on the struggling NBC broadcast network), also reveals plans for a second "family-friendly" TV movie, The Jensen Project, from P&G and Walmart, set to air July 16.
While I can't help but scratch my head at P&G's move to try bring back two business models that both faded away long before OJ ever got in that white Bronco (the fully-corporate sponsored network TV block, and the made-for-TV movie) while barely even lifting a finger save the daytime soap opera (sorry, Ellen Wheeler in a field with a handycam doesn't quite compare to a splashy primetime movie starring Paige Turco), I am no longer going to hate on their upcoming efforts to at least remain in the business of producing scripted television content. It could be much worse. They could be creating another televised singing contest or dancing debacle for NBC to try to compete with American Idol or Dancing With The D-Listers. Now that would truly make me switch to a different brand of diapers.
I was a big fan of the classic 80's TV movies, and although this whole "family-friendly" thing has me fearing a bunch of movies about towns filled with only straight, wholesome white people with problems (and the occasional, neck-rolling "sassy" black female friend) that are wrapped up nicely in a bow in 120 minutes (I'd rather watch a modern day Burning Bed myself), perhaps P&G's forward movement into scripted content won't be as lacking in diversity as we might think?
P&G is partnering with America Ferrera and MTV for the bilingual, interactive telenovela Pedro & Maria. I'm sure Ferrera— fresh from Ugly Betty, the most inspiring show of scripted diversity in years—and MTV won't allow Pedro & Maria to lack in flavor, even if the Bigot Brigade of America does mobilize and threatens to stop buying Tide if they see any of them thar gays on the series.
I also learned from the article that P&G played a role in BET's "My Black is Beautiful" campaign, as well as bringing one of my fav-or-ite shows, Everybody Hates Chris to the tube. Well shut my mouth and call off Jesse Jackson. I wish P&G had kept more more beautiful, black (not to mention Latino, Asian, etc.) people on their soap operas, but hey, there's no use crying over spilled diversity.
Here's to hoping that P&G's new ventures are successful and that some of their more talented writers and producers (i.e. Jill Lorie Hurst, Susan Dansby) get the chance to pen one or three, as opposed to this providing jobs for the same old soap slayers. Yes Christopher Goutman, I am talking about you. I mean, now that P&G actually wants to make money at creating scripted content again, it would make no good horse sense to keep employing people skilled at wrecking them, right? (Ellen Wheeler reluctantly puts her resume and her track shoes in her gym bag and walks away, deflated.)