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UPDATED: Will a Disastrous Replacement Pilot Save One ABC Soap For Now?


UPDATE: According to sources both the Tori Spelling vehicle and the proposed male version of The View are dead in the water and have been for some time. It is reportedly down to the Danny Boome cooking show and a reality weight loss competition, described as a "Biggest Loser" rip off. Keep checking back to Daytime Confidential as the story develops!

We seem to be heading for the finish line in terms of an announcement being made about the future of the ABC Daytime lineup. According to a reliable source, one of the pilots reportedly in contention to replace All My Children or One Life to Live has allegedly turned out to be a televised disaster.

"One of the pilots isn't any good," says the insider, "one soap, however might still be in jeopardy. There could be something official as early as Monday. "

As previously reported, ABC Media Productions—which is also overseen by ABC Daytime Chief Brian Frons—has been developing a talk vehicle for teen soap star-turned-reality staple Tori Spelling and Bravo standout Jeff Lewis, as well as cooking show for Food Network favorite Danny Boome. Also in contention has been a male version of The View from Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie.  

Recently, TV Guide's veteran daytime reporter Michael Logan reported he was hearing Frons had both a talk show and reality series lined up for fall to replace both All My Children and One Life to Live, and that the executive was rumored to be "extremely cavalier" and "showing no signs of sorrow or regret" about possibly gutting Agnes Nixon's sudsers. 

"Brian had a lot of success with reality shows overseas," one mole poined out. "He's fairly confident he could make a reality series work on daytime."

The source was referring to the time Frons spent working for SBS Broadcasting, S.A., a U.K. media giant where the TV exec served as senior vice-president of programming. During his tenure with the firm, Frons reportedly helped launch hit international versions of Big Brother, Survivor, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and other reality shows. A quick look at his attempts at reality series on this side of the pond, however reveals a string of failures for the soon-to-be defunct SOAPnet, including Southern Belles: Louisville, Bank of Mom and Dad and Greg Behrendt's Wake-Up Call.

Some in the industry feel a reality show would be a tough sell for daytime.

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"Many NBC affiliates are already trying strips of the Real Housewives franchise in daytime, but the scripted soaps are beating them in the Nielsens," points out one daytime expert. 

Unfortunately, the ratings aren't the only factor affecting the future of the soaps. Despite reports elsewhere, production costs of the ABC soaps are still very much an issue, confirms several in the know.

The last major attempt to try to make a go of the cheap-to-produce docusoap format for daytime was Starting Over from Real World co-creator Jonathan Murray. That critically-acclaimed, syndicated self-help soap ran for just three season (2003-06).

A quick look at the most recent Nielsens shows All My Children to be the ABC soap struggling the most in the ratings. AMC was dead last in both the coveted women 18-49 and women 18-34 demos the week of March 28—April 1, while One Life to Live was Number 3 in women 18-49, only two-tenths of a point below General Hospital in the demo Madison Avenue cares most about. OLTL was also Number 3 among women 18-34. and continues to best AMC in total viewers and households.

Both soap operas have received some positive news in recent weeks, with the announcement that Lorraine Broderick had been tapped to once again head write AMC, and the return of mega popular star Roger Howarth to OLTL, respectively, but no one is clear as to what impact either development will have on the future of the sudsers, if any.

"They literally go back and forth between [canceling] All My Children and One Life to Live from day to day, " sighs one source. "It's insane."

 One thing that could help keep AMC and OLTL stay in production for awhile longer is the vocal fan campaign to see ABC opt to keep both soaps on their lineup.

"ABC is definitely fearing backlash," says an insider. "They know this has been a PR disaster, what with poor Susan [Lucci] out on her book tour in the midst of all this."

ABC will have to make some sort of announcement soon in order to start generating buzz for their Fall 2011 lineup. The network's Upront presentation is scheduled for May 17. As always, keep checking back with Daytime Confidential—which told you first something game-changing was going down with the ABC soaps—as this story develops.

Let ABC know you want them to stay in the soap business by contacting them via the methods below:

Anne Sweeney

President, ABC Television

ABC Studios

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank CA 91521

CALL: Anne Sweeney direct office line: 818 460-7700